Boston College warns students of possible mumps outbreak

Boston College has warned students of a possible mumps outbreak on campus, university officials said, though no cases have been confirmed.

“Clinical evaluations suggest the likelihood of a positive diagnosis among several BC students,” BC Health Services Director Dr. Thomas Nary said in an e-mail sent to members of the college community Thursday.

Roughly a dozen students have presented with mumps-like symptoms, BC spokesman Jack Dunn said, but all tests for the mumps virus came back negative. Nevertheless, the college decided to notify students to use added caution, advising them to avoid coughing or sneezing into the air, to wash their hands, and to use hand sanitizers frequently.

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“Boston College is taking these precautions in light of confirmed cases in Maryland, Virginia, and Massachusetts,” Dunn said.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said it is assisting in the investigation into potential cases at BC. Agency spokeswoman Anne Roach said she had no information on confirmed mumps cases on other Massachusetts college campuses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even those who are vaccinated twice can contract the virus. Symptoms, including swollen glands on one or both sides of the jaw, fever, and body aches, last roughly a week. These symptoms typically surface two to three weeks after contact.

“If diagnosed, students will be advised to self-isolate for several days and rely on roommates to bring them food,” Nary said. The college said it will provide to-go meals for self-isolating students for the rest of the school year.

Mumps can be contracted by direct contact with saliva from an affected individual, including exposure to a sneeze or cough, according to the CDC. Nary said facilities staff will more frequently wipe down railings and door handles in campus public spaces.