Brunswick says mumps outbreak confined to college

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BRUNSWICK — While Bowdoin College is responding to a campus outbreak of mumps virus, the town is remaining cautious, but proceeding with business as usual.

As of Tuesday morning, Bowdoin had recorded four cases of mumps, according to college spokesman Doug Cook, up from two cases reported by the Bowdoin Orient student newpaper on Nov. 4.

Also Tuesday, Town Manager John Eldridge said Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski reported there were no cases of mumps in the public school system.

The town’s health officer, Jeff Emerson, on Wednesday said the college and Mid Coast Hospital made him aware of the outbreak last week through the town’s health alert network.

Emerson, who is also the deputy fire chief, said municipal officials “are in communication with the hospital, and they obviously are working with the college.”

He said he will continue to receive updates from the college and, in the meantime, has refreshed his staff’s education about the virus.

The symptoms of mumps are flu-like in nature, and can result in fever, swelling, body aches, and loss of appetite. The virus can also cause the salivary glands, cheeks, and jaw to swell, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

On Nov. 2, Dr. Jeffrey Maher, the college health services director, informed students, faculty, and staff by email that affected students are “self-isolating as advised by the Health Center” and that the college is working closely with the Maine Center for Disease Control.

Maher said the “vast majority” of students are immunized based on a review of available health records, and the Bowdoin Orient reported Nov. 4 that fewer than 10 students are not vaccinated for religious, personal, moral, or philosophical reasons, or do not have vaccinations on file.

The CDC says that the MMR vaccine used to treat the virus “prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease.”

Maher said transmission of the virus spreads through respiratory secretions and saliva – in actions like sneezing, kissing, or sharing eyeglasses. Affected people can be contagious for up to two days prior to showing symptoms.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

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Reporter on the Brunswick/Harpswell beat. Proud Bowdoin grad that you can find reporting on municipal, school, and community news, or inside the many coffee and sandwich shops around the Midcoast. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100.
  • farmertom2

    The town is not in any position to complain about Bowdoin’s policy, as Brunswick allows unimmunized children to attend public school.
    Bowdoin, of course, should have an absolute requirement for immunizations, save for documented medical reasons, such as leukemia or depressed immune system.

  • Aliyah33

    Some facts: An automatic assumption is that immunizations are 100% effective. We strive for herd immunity, but titer tests are the only conclusive method of knowing if we, indeed,as individuals have antibodies against specific viruses. Therefore, we see outbreaks in populations even when there are documented immunizations. Why? Because some microbiologists say we haven’t always developed effective immunizations (but they strive to do so), some individuals may not have not followed through with boosters, or series; and we don’t know how long each individual maintains antibodies against specific viruses. It’s my opinion, we should be given the truth, which predominantly mainstream media continues to obfuscate. Sometimes that truth is “inconvenient” for pharmaceutical companies, but includes facts such as India has filed suit against the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations for 47,000 cases of paralysis deaths in girls due to a certain immunization. Therefore, I urge everyone to take advantage of the information available to us outside of mainstream media, including research; and, additionally, to question who’s funding the research and why.