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Young adults heading off to high school, college and university should ensure they’re protected against the mumps, public health officials advise, as the number of new cases continues to rise.


In the last month alone there have been 13 news cases of the mumps in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes Whistler and Squamish . The patients range in age from 18 to 33, with the average age being 25. There have been 80 mumps cases in the VCH region since February 2017 compared to 86 for all of 2016. VCH recorded an average of 32 cases per year between 2011 and 2015.

“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.

Young adults living in shared spaces and those who have close contact with others in the same age group are more likely to contract the mumps. Mumps is spread by contact with saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus spreads through droplets in the air.

You can be exposed to the virus even if you are two meters away from someone with mumps. Sharing food, drinks or cigarettes, or kissing someone who has the virus can also put you at risk. Earlier this year, several Vancouver Canucks players and staff contracted the highly contagious viral illness.