There are now five cases of mumps in Collingwood, all in children under 10 years old who have not been immunized.
Four cases have been confirmed through testing and another case has been diagnosed based on symptoms presented. This is now the third highest rate of mumps infections in the Simcoe Muskoka region in the last 19 years.
Once someone has been diagnosed with the mumps, the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit’s infectious disease program will determine the points of contact of the infected individuals while they are most contagious and will follow-up with those who might have come in contact with the virus.
In this case, the health unit sent letters to both a public and Catholic school in Collingwood warning parents and teachers that they had potentially been exposed to the mumps virus.
Jillian Fenik, manager of the health unit’s infectious disease program, is encouraging people to make sure their immunizations are up to date.
“We’re reinforcing that immunization is the best protection against mumps,” said Fenik.
The mumps vaccine is combined with an immunization for measles and rubella as well. It’s recommended for children at one-year-old and a booster for children between four and six years old.
According to Fenik, the first vaccine offers some coverage (about 75 per cent) for mumps, and getting the booster a few years later offers 90 per cent protection against the mumps virus.
Mumps is a viral infection primarily affecting saliva glands located near your ears, which can cause the characteristic swollen cheeks commonly associated with mumps. Those with mumps are contagious both before and after symptoms arise.
The virus is transmitted via infected saliva, so it can be spread through sneezing, coughing, or sharing utensils or drinking glasses.
“Mumps is not endemic in our area,” said Fenik, adding those infected likely travelled or were in contact with someone who had been travelling.
Some complications of mumps include swelling in the testicles, which can on rare occasions lead to sterility; encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), which can be life threatening; meningitis (fluid around the brain and spinal cord); and pancreatitis. There is also a risk of hearing loss due to mumps, which can be temporary or permanent.
Now that there are five cases of mumps in Collingwood, that represents one of the highest number of cases in a year since 2000. In 2013 and 2009, there were seven cases each year reported by the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit. Typically, the number of cases ranges from one to two for a year, according to health unit stats online.
In Ontario, there were fewer than two cases per 100,000 people in the province in 2017, which was up from the trend of fewer than .35 cases per 100,000 people in 2012-2016.
According to an information document put out by the health unit, the symptoms of mumps can show up about 12-25 days after being in close contact with someone with the mumps.
The symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, tiredness, loss of appetite, swollen and painful glands. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should see your family doctor or a health professional.
The MMR vaccine can be given at any time past the recommended ages, and is available through the health unit, your family physician, or at a walk-in clinic.
For more information on the vaccine, click here.
For more information on immunization from the health unit, click here.