Cases of mumps were recently identified in the Northwest Territories (NWT), for the first time since 1995, according to the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority this week.

According to NWT chief public health officer, Dr. Andre Corriveau, there are two cases confirmed and at least two other cases are being investigated.

The Chief Public Health Officer is concerned that the virus may be circulating within some NWT communities. NWT healthcare providers have been reminded to carefully monitor for signs and symptoms of mumps and ensure that people with symptoms are appropriately tested and treated if needed.

Mumps is an acute infectious disease caused by the mumps virus. It is spread via coughing, sneezing, kissing, sharing glasses or utensils, and touching a surface that has the virus on it. Mumps is suspected when there is swelling of one or more of the saliva glands. The swelling may just be on one side, but is more commonly on both. Sometimes the glands under the tongue or jaw are affected also. Other possible symptoms of mumps include: fever, headache, earache, tiredness, sore muscles, dry mouth, poor appetite, and trouble talking, chewing, or swallowing.

Before the swelling occurs, flu-like symptoms appear in about half of those who get the virus. In children under 5, mumps can show up as a lung infection. Fever usually lasts 1-6 days but enlargement of the glands may go on for 10 days or longer. A few people may have little or no symptoms but can still spread the virus. When a person is exposed to mumps, it usually takes from 16 – 18 days for them to get sick, but it can range from 12 – 25 days. The virus is most contagious from 2 days before the swelling starts until 5 days after it goes away.

Mumps is a vaccine preventable disease. The best way to make sure you don’t get mumps is to make sure your vaccinations are up to date.

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Health officials say if you think you may have mumps, please let your healthcare provider know immediately. For the protection of others, do not just show up at a healthcare facility, but contact the healthcare provider by phone. Until you know for sure, you should isolate yourself at home, and DO NOT attend work, school, church, bingo, or any other public gatherings. Your healthcare provider will arrange for the appropriate testing, which includes a swab of the inside of your cheek, and a simple blood test.