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Health unit advises caution amid mumps outbreaks

Mehreen Shahid

By Mehreen Shahid, Special to the Packet & Times

POSTMEDIA NETWORK FILES

POSTMEDIA NETWORK FILES

The lack of a second vaccine may be the cause of a recent spike in mumps cases, according to a health unit spokesperson.

Across the country, as of Thursday, the province of Manitoba had confirmed 192 cases, and there have been 37 in Alberta and up to 40 in Ontario. Of the Ontario cases, 37 were in the Greater Toronto Area, which averages about four a year.

One case has been reported this year in Simcoe County and Muskoka, where the average is zero to seven cases annually, said Heidi Pitfield, manager of the communicable diseases program at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

“What they’re identifying is that the majority of cases are (among those) between the ages of 18 and 35 years old,” she said.

The reason for this could date back more than 25 years. Those born between 1970 and 1991 received a single dose of the mumps vaccine. After 1991, a booster dose was added to the first one, she explained.

While current school-age children are protected by the two doses, Pitfield said, those born between 1970 and 1991 should check their vaccination history to see if they received the booster dose.

“They can call into the immunization program at the health unit and they can help conduct the assessment,” she said, adding, if needed, a booster dose can be given by a family doctor or the local health unit.

While there is no need to panic, Pitfield said, she advises those travelling to and from the GTA to take precautionary measures.

“Good, old hand hygiene and covering your cough and sneeze will prevent spread,” she said. “We often see these cases in clusters where populations are sharing items, such as water bottles or lip balms.”

For more information on the virus, visit simcoemuskokahealth.org.

mshahid@postmedia.com

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