In the days following the announcement of an outbreak of mumps on campus, campus officials are taking a series of measures to prevent further spread of the infection.
Cases of mumps, so far only identified in students, have risen dramatically since the first instances were announced Friday. From only four known cases last week, there were as many as 20 confirmed and suspected cases by Wednesday afternoon, according to Kim LaPean, communications manager for campus University Health Services.
Cases have been identified throughout the campus, with no particular prevalence of infection in any single location.
“(Mumps) appears to be in on-campus (housing), Greek system, and co-ops and with people who live with their parents 20 miles away,” said Brad Buchman, medical director of University Health Services.
In response to the infection, campus officials are going through a series of preventive measures to “intervene early in what could be a series of waves,” said Buchman.
The plan from campus officials has been twofold — to educate students on how to avoid infection and to vaccinate them to prevent further infections.
Buchman and other campus health officials are encouraging students to wash their hands and to avoid sharing food in the coming weeks. The symptoms of mumps — characterized by facial swelling and coldlike symptoms — can take 16 to 18 days to appear, with the result that those infected accidentally spread the disease before they know they have it.
The campus is offering free vaccinations, which are being administered at clinics held outside the Tang Center. The first will be Thursday, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The California Department of Public Health recommends that all students receive the vaccination, as all are vulnerable to infection — even those who have been vaccinated twice, according to Buchman.
This mumps outbreak is the latest in a number of large outbreaks throughout the United States in recent years, Buchman said. The largest mumps outbreak on a college campus in the last five years was at the University of Iowa, according to Buchman. At that campus the outbreak lasted six months and eventually spread to 13 states.
Measures are being taken by UC Berkeley officials to avoid a similar result.
Officials at the Clark Kerr Campus are also making changes to help contain the spread of the disease.
“We are taking precautions like leaving extra hand sanitizer around, (and) custodians are wiping down handles,” said Leonard Green, facilities manager for the Clark Kerr Campus residence hall, one of the initial locations at which an infection of mumps was confirmed.
Action is being taken at the Berkeley Student Cooperative, another location where mumps has been confirmed. In response to the disease, the co-ops are having “house (health) workers give people all the information to prevent the risk of contagion,” according to Jan Stokley, executive director of Berkeley Student Cooperative.
Students have been largely indifferent to the announcement of the infection.
“I haven’t had any reaction from students at all,” Green said. “Folks aren’t panicking.”
Students who feel they may have contracted the disease are encouraged to avoid others and remain at home for five days.
A previous version may have implied that all 20 cases of mumps were confirmed. In fact, the 20 total cases include seven confirmed cases and 13 suspected cases.