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Mumps cases on the rise; VCH urges people to get vaccinated

Last Updated Sep 14, 2017 at 11:51 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

In the last month, there have been 13 new cases of the mumps in the Vancouver Coastal Health region

80 mumps cases in the VCH region since February 2017, compared to 86 for all of 2016

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver Coastal Health is warning everyone, including young adults heading to high school or college, of a rise in the number of mumps cases across the region.

The health authority says there have been 13 new cases in the last month alone, with patients ranging in age from 18 to 33.

VCH says there have been 80 mumps cases since February 2017, compared to 86 for all of 2016. It says between 2011 and 2015, they saw an annual average of 32 cases,

“We continue to see mumps in increasing numbers, and these outbreaks will continue unless young adults between the ages of 23 and 47 receive two doses of vaccine so they are fully protected,” says Dr. Althea Hayden, Medical Health Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health.

She adds there’s no clear reason why the disease has made a comeback, but Vancouver isn’t alone.

“We are seeing a resurgence of mumps activity throughout North America, which makes us vulnerable to having folks bring mumps back from when they travel or… folks visiting us, bringing mumps with them.”

Those most likely to contract the mumps are young adults living in shared spaces. Mumps is spread by contact with saliva or mucous from an infected person. The virus is also spread through droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Sharing food, drinks or cigarettes, or kissing someone who has the virus also puts you at risk.

Earlier this year, several Vancouver Canucks players and staff caught the illness.

Vancouver Coastal Health is urging people to be vaccinated against the virus. People born in 1970 or later need two doses of a mumps-containing vaccine, while anyone born from 1957 through to the end of 1969 only need one dose.

Anyone who was born before 1957 or has had the mumps before is considered protected.

A second dose of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) was not added to the routine vaccination schedule in BC until 1996, which means many adults may not be fully protected. VCH says if you aren’t sure, it is safe to receive an additional dose for free from your doctor and at most walk-in clinics.

Mumps causes fever and swelling of the salivary glads in the face (below the jaw and ears and under the tongue), however not everyone who is infected will experience such swelling. Complications of infections include swelling of the testes in men and swelling of the ovaries in women. In rare cases, there is inflammation of the brain and deafness.