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.