Due to the sustained increase in the number of mumps cases being identified across the Edmonton Zone, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is expanding the scope of the outbreak to include the entire Edmonton Zone.

Image/Public domain photo/John Fowler via Wikimedia Commons
Image/Public domain photo/John Fowler via Wikimedia Commons

Previously, the outbreak had been declared specific to the University of Alberta only.

For the duration of the outbreak, all persons who live, work or go to school in the Edmonton Zone and were born in or after 1970 can receive up to two free doses of vaccine.

Individuals who have already had two documented doses of this vaccine do not require any additional doses. Those born before 1970 are assumed to be immune due to the fact that mumps was extremely common prior to vaccine being available.

“To stop the further spread of illness, and protect ourselves and our loved ones, we encourage all Edmonton Zone residents to ensure that they are up to date with all of their immunizations,” says Dr. Joanna Oda, Medical Officer of Health, Edmonton Zone. “If you’re unsure of your immunization status, call Health Link at 811 or your local public health centre.”

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that can often cause swelling and pain in the glands of the jaw (one or both cheeks may look swollen).

Some people with mumps won’t have gland swelling and some may feel like they have a bad cold or influenza instead.

Although most people recover from mumps without long-term impact, in some cases it can cause serious complications that affect the brain (meningitis), the testicles (orchitis), the ovaries (oophoritis), or the pancreas (pancreatitis). It can also cause deafness in children.

As of March 28, 51 cases of mumps have been confirmed in Alberta this year, 24 of which are in Edmonton Zone. Outbreaks of mumps are also being reported elsewhere in Canada and the U.S.

“In addition to checking your immunization status, please remember: if you or your child develops symptoms of pain on chewing or swallowing and/or swelling of the cheek or jaw, please call Health Link (811) or a doctor to discuss before you visit any healthcare facility,” says Dr. Oda. “This will help reduce the risk of further spread to other patients.”