In a follow-up on the mumps outbreak in Manitoba, Canada, health officials with Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living (MHSAL) put the tally at 176 since September 2016.
While initially the majority of cases were University students between 18 to 29 years of age, living in Winnipeg, or involved with or participate in sports, mumps cases are now being seen in all ages and throughout Manitoba, including cases in pre-school and school aged populations.
Last week, MHSAL issued a letter to parents to ensure that all parents and guardians are aware of the situation and know how to recognize the symptoms of mumps, understand how to prevent its spread and know what to do if they suspect they or their child(ren) may be infected with the mumps virus.
Symptoms generally occur between 12 to 25 days after infection and resolve three to ten days after onset of illness. The most common are fever and swollen cheeks and neck. Swollen cheeks and neck are due to swollen glands, usually under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face.
Approximately 20 per cent of those infected with mumps will not show any symptoms. Nearly half of those infected have mainly respiratory symptoms.
Mumps is caused by the mumps virus, which is spread through respiratory droplets in the air formed when coughing or sneezing and through the sharing of food or drinks. You can also catch it by touching an item that was previously touched by an infected person and then touching your eyes or mouth.
Mumps can be prevented through immunization. Manitoba has a provincial immunization program, which provides free, publicly-funded vaccines to those who are eligible.
The average incubation period for mumps, which is the time from exposure to when the appearance of symptoms occurs, is 16-18 days with a range of 12-25 days.
A person is infectious from seven days before to 5 days after the onset of swollen glands. Maximum infectiousness occurs 2 days before symptoms until 5 days after. A person with no symptoms can transmit infection.
Other precautions can be taken, including practicing good hand hygiene, covering your mouth with a tissue or your shirt sleeve when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding sharing of personal items.
Most people who have mumps will be protected (immune) from getting mumps again. There is a small percent of people though, who could get re-infected with mumps and have a milder illness.