On Wednesday, the Chief Public Health Officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam issued the following statement concerning mumps outbreaks in Canada:

Dr Theresa Tam Image/PHAC
Dr Theresa Tam

Several outbreaks of mumps have been confirmed across Canada and are being investigated by local public health authorities. In light of this, I want to remind Canadians of the importance of getting vaccinated and the steps you can take to help prevent the spread of this disease.

Mumps is a highly contagious viral disease that passes easily from person to person. The most common symptom of mumps is swelling of the glands that produce saliva. This swelling can make the cheek or neck bulge out on one or both sides. Sometimes the virus can cause more serious complications like hearing loss or swelling of other glands, including testicles.

The best way to prevent an infection is to be vaccinated with the mumps vaccine, which is given in combination with the measles and rubella vaccines as part of routine childhood vaccination programs. Thanks to vaccination programs throughout Canada, mumps is no longer a common childhood disease. In fact, there has been a 99% reduction in the number of cases reported since the introduction of routine vaccinations against mumps. But, as the past few months have shown us, outbreaks of mumps continue to occur in Canada, mostly in young adults.

If you develop symptoms of mumps, particularly swelling of the cheeks or neck, you should consult your health care provider immediately. Remember to call ahead to ensure that you do not expose others to the disease.

Make sure all your vaccinations are up to date. If you need to know more about your vaccination status, contact your health care provider or local public health unit.

We all have a role to play in making sure that we, our families, friends and communities stay healthy.