Campus mumps outbreak grows to over 40 suspected and confirmed cases

The California Department of Public Health confirmed Monday that the mumps outbreak at UC Berkeley — which has grown to 44 suspected and confirmed cases — began when a UC Berkeley student contracted the virus in Great Britain.

Department spokesperson Matt Conens said in an email Monday that laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus had increased from seven to nine cases and suspected cases had grown to approximately 35 cases.

According to Mike Sicilia, spokesperson for the department, the department located the source of the outbreak through interviewing infected students.

“We believe this outbreak was started by a student who was exposed to mumps while in Europe and returned to campus and unfortunately developed mumps and spread it to others,” Sicilia said. “It’s actually not unusual for outbreaks of mumps in the U.S. that there has been some contact with someone who has been out of the country.”

University Health Services has been advised by the department as well as the City of Berkeley Division of Public Health to refocus its containment efforts on students in high-population housing, where officials currently suspect the outbreak began.

University Health Services Medical Director Brad Buchman said prevention efforts are being focused on high-population student living areas with shared dining and bathroom facilities, including dorms, coops and fraternities and sororities, because these areas have seen the most suspected and confirmed cases.

“Students living in the high-density housing arrangements … have the highest risk and are strongly encouraged to present for MMR vaccination, regardless of vaccination status,” Buchman said in an e-mail.

Cases have been reported in the residence halls, coops, and in fraternity and sorority houses across campus, including Cloyne Court and the Clark Kerr Campus.

Clark Kerr resident Kodiak Spydell, a UC Berkeley freshman, said that he was pleased with how the campus is responding to the outbreak.

“Until I’m actually affected by the mumps, I’m fine as long as it can be contained,” he said. “That’s where the effort should be. I do think they did a good job of letting us know as soon as they could.”

The Berkeley Student Cooperative, which has experienced at least one confirmed and one suspected case of the virus, has responded to the outbreak by educating residents about preventative measures.

“The health worker coordinator is disseminating resource material and all the information we’ve gotten from the chancellor,” said BSC Executive Director Jan Stokley. “We’re educating people at the house level about what the symptoms are and what to do to prevent contagion.”

Health officials at UC Berkeley and the department are recommending that at-risk individuals who have already received two doses of the vaccine receive a third dose.

According to Buchman, though two doses of the vaccine were thought sufficient, previous outbreaks have revealed that up to half the patients with mumps had already had two doses.

Buchman said most suspected and confirmed cases saw symptoms such as a swelling of the parotid gland and some have seen inflammation of the testicles.

The mumps, measles and rubella vaccine will be available for free to students, faculty and staff at the Tang Center from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday of this week.

Clarification

A previous version may have implied that all cases of mumps involved orchitis, or swelling of the testicles. Rather, most of the cases of mumps have been mild and only a few of the cases have involved orchitis.