Reported cases of mumps increase by eight students

Yesterday the Tufts community was alerted to an increase in reported cases of mumps on the Tufts Medford/Somerville campus through an email from Medical Director of Health Service Margaret Higham and Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon.

The announcement was a follow up on a message sent three weeks prior on Oct. 28 informing students of a case of mumps reported by a student living off-campus in the area.

In the following three weeks, the number of cases has risen to nine, Higham explained.

According to the Oct. 28 email, university environments facilitate the rapid spread of mumps and several New England universities have reported outbreaks.

Though all Tufts students must be vaccinated for mumps before coming to school, Higham said that it is still possible to catch the virus. She encouraged students to protect themselves by covering their noses and mouths when sneezing or coughing, washing hands often and not sharing utensils or drinks.

Higham said that Health Service has had several inquiries on whether tests of one’s blood “titer,” a lab test for antibodies in the blood, could be a helpful predictor in a student’s susceptibility to mumps.

“Unfortunately, with mumps illness, a titer is not helpful. Having a positive titer does not protect someone from infection (students with positive titers still can get mumps),” she told the Daily in an email.

She emphasized that the Department of Public Health did not recommend getting titers.

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