An outbreak of the mumps virus has been confirmed in the area. The Northwestern Health Unit says that they have been notified of cases of mumps in some communities in the region. The NWHU did not specify which communities.
Donna Stanley, Manager of Infectious Disease at the health unit, explained.
“We are seeing mumps in several communities. We want people to take preventive measures. It is a vaccine-controllable disease,” she said.
Stanley says that the most common symptoms of mumps are swollen, painful cheeks and neck, fever, headache, muscle aches, weakness and loss of appetite. She adds that complications are rare but serious, including inflamed ovaries or testicles, hearing loss and meningitis.
Those who may be at a higher risk of getting mumps include those who have not yet been vaccinated adequately for mumps, school aged children, those who participate in or organize youth team sports and those born from 1970 to 1992 who likely only have one dose of the vaccine. Stanley adds that residents are urged to check their immunization records to be sure that they have had two doses.
“Before 1970, most people were exposed to mumps so most people would be immune from the disease. Since 1992, most people would have had two doses through school. We are prioritizing kids in school who have not yet had their second dose, as well as adults born between 1970 and 1992 to look at their records and see if they have had their second dose of the vaccine,” she said.
Mumps vaccine, as part of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine, can be 75 to 95 per cent effective in preventing mumps. Immunization protects the individual, as well as helps to stop the spread to friends and family. While immunization is the most effective method at preventing contracting and spreading the virus, even those with two doses of the vaccine can still get sick.
“Those who have been immunized, they can still get sick. If they are sick, it’s often a mild-case of the virus. Cold-like symptoms, a fever and the swollen cheeks and neck. You’re also contagious. It’s good to call your doctor’s office and tell them that you may have mumps,” she said.
Mumps can also be prevented by regular hand washing or using hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or sleeve, not sharing water bottles, straws, cigarettes or anything else that may have saliva. People who are ill are advised to stay home from work or school and avoid public places, especially if they have a fever, have swollen, painful cheeks and neck and if there has been recent contact with people with mumps.
If you think you or your child may have mumps, residents can call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. If you visit an emergency room or clinic, residents are advised to put on a mask at the entrance and inform staff that you may have the virus. This will help protect other people in the waiting area. Residents may also call the Northwestern Health Unit at 1-800-830-5978 for more information. People can get their immunization at the Northwestern Health Unit or their local doctor’s office.
In March of 2017, the province of Manitoba had more than 175 confirmed cases of the virus.
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Manitoba mumps outbreak hasn’t reached into northwestern Ontario