# Friday, May 18, 2007
                 

Canadian Mumps Outbreak

Ontario is the latest province to have reported cases of the mumps. 3 cases have  been reported in Toronto, with 6 other cases being reported in other parts of the province. Toronto health officials have issued a warning, due to the highly contagious nature of this disease. The outbreak originated in Nova Scotia, with over 200 people contracting the virus, which has also spread to New Brunswick, which has 40 reported cases. The cases in Toronto have been directly linked to a student from the Maritimes visiting the city without knowing he was carrying the disease, with 300 people reportedly being exposed to the virus.

This recent outbreak seems to have started with the student population in New Brunswick. 95% of the cases are attributed to university students. Due to the close living quarters, and social settings, i.e. classes, dining halls, etc. the virus has quickly spread. Any students traveling to or from New Brunswick need to aware of their health and any symptoms they might be exhibiting in order to stop the spread of mumps. While the mumps is typically not a serious illness, it can cause meningitis, hearing loss and inflammation of the testicles or ovaries, and inflammation of the pancreas. Pregnant women who contract the mumps are also at risk of miscarriage. For anyone who has a compromised immune system, the mumps can pose a potentially fatal health risk.

While Eastern Canada experienced a mumps outbreak in 2005-2006, Ontario has not been exposed to the mumps in recent years. Therefore, many people may not be aware of the symptoms, and how it is spread. The mumps is a highly contagious virus that is spread through saliva. It is spread through coughing, sneezing, kissing, and also through the sharing of food, cigarettes and drinks or contact with any surface that has been contaminated with the virus. Therefore, it is important to not share these items, or any other items that would put you in contact with another person's saliva. The symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, loss of appetite and tenderness of the salivary glands. If you are experiencing these symptoms, and suspect you may have been exposed to the mumps virus, it is advised that you self-isolate yourself for a period of 9 days (other than to obtain medical care) in order to stop the spread of the virus.

It is assumed that people approximately of 40 years of age have a natural immunity to the virus. Depending on the province in which you reside, people between 12-17 have already had 2 doses of the mumps vaccine. It is important that you check with your health care provider to see whether or not your children have received both doses of the vaccine in order to prevent them from contracting the mumps virus. For the people that do not fall into these categories, consult with your physician to see if you have been vaccinated, and whether or not you should receive another. For the areas that are experiencing current outbreaks, you may be advised to receive another vaccination, especially students and people who work in the healthcare industry.

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