Harvard University announced in February that several students had been infected with mumps. Despite efforts to isolate patients, infections have steadily increased and the outbreak has left more than 40 people sick within two months, according to CNN.
Paul J. Barreira, director of the Massachusetts university's health services, told students that he worried about the dramatic rise in mumps cases around the university.
"I'm actually more concerned now than I was during any time of the outbreak. I'm desperate to get students to take seriously that they shouldn't be infecting one another."
He added that cases of mumps are spreading around campus so quickly, that the university's May 27 commencement ceremony may need to be postponed.
"If there's a spike this week, that means those students expose others, so now we're looking at a potential serious interruption to commencement for students," Barreira told The Harvard Crimson, the school's newspaper.
"Students will get infected and then go into isolation."
Mumps, a viral infection, can cause swelling in the salivary glands and cheeks, ear aches, jaw pain, fevers, muscle aches and headaches. Most patients will recover completely. It is spread through saliva and mucus.
Outbreaks of mumps in the U.S. have been relatively rare in recent years, although they have mostly affected high school and college campuses. Two large outbreaks occurred in New York during the 2009-2010 school year, while smaller outbreaks were reported in Maryland, Virginia and California between 2011 and 2013.