As of June 8 the number of people with mumps in the Vancouver Coastal Health region has grown to 46 people.
The average age of patients in this mumps outbreak is 33. Because of their age, most people infected with mumps likely only had one dose of mumps vaccine and were not fully protected against the disease.
Doctors are encouraging everyone between the ages of 22 and 46, if you aren’t sure you’ve had two doses, to get a second dose of the vaccine.
If you were born after January 1, 1970, you need to have two doses of mumps-containing vaccine to be protected.
If you were born before 1970 or know that you have had mumps infection, you are considered protected from natural infection. Mumps vaccine is usually given as MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella). Since a second dose of MMR was not added to routine vaccination schedule in B.C. until 1996, many adults born between 1970 and 1996 are not fully protected. If you are not sure if you have complete protection, it is safe for you to receive another dose of MMR vaccine.
MMR vaccine is available for free from public health units, pharmacists, family doctors and most walk-in clinics.
Mumps is a viral illness causing fever and swelling of the salivary glands in the face, which are located below the jaw and ears and under the tongue. Not everyone infected with mumps will have salivary gland swelling. Complications can occur as a result of mumps infections including swelling of the testes in adult males and swelling of the ovaries in adult females, although sterility is a rare outcome. Rare complications include inflammation of the brain (meningitis) and temporary but often permanent deafness.
Mumps is contagious and spreads easily. 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 2 meters away from someone with mumps. You can become infected when you breathe in these droplets or touch objects contaminated with the virus. Sharing food, drinks or cigarettes, or kissing someone who has the virus can also put you at risk.
If you think you have mumps disease, please stay home from work and social events. Contact your doctor before going to the clinic to avoid infecting other patients and office staff. Notify your public health nurse as soon as possible.
For more information about immunization, please see ImmunizeBC
. Your family physician, nurse practitioner, public health nurse, or HealthLink BC (8-1-1) can also help if you have questions.