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Mumps Outbreak

To: Students, Parents and Staff of Alberta Schools
From:  Alberta Medical Officers of Health

Outbreaks of mumps in Manitoba and the United States in the past several months are a reminder that vaccine-preventable infections, including mumps, are still a risk to health, including here in Alberta. To reduce the risk to your child, and our communities, we need to ensure as many Albertans as possible are up to date with their mumps immunization. This includes yourself, and your children.

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that can often cause swelling and pain in the jaw (one or both cheeks may look swollen). Some people with mumps won't have gland swelling, and some may feel like they have a bad cold or influenza instead.
Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes near you or shares food or drinks with you. A person with mumps can spread the virus seven days before and for nine days after symptoms start, though it is most likely to spread the virus one to two days before and five days after symptoms start showing.

Although mumps usually goes away on its own in about 10 days, in some cases, it can cause serious complications that affect the brain (meningitis), the testicles (orchitis), the ovaries (oophoritis), or the pancreas (pancreatitis). These complications can have life-long effects.  Mumps can be prevented through immunization (vaccine).

The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, and the MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella [chickenpox]) vaccine, both protect against mumps. Most children get these vaccines as part of their routine childhood shots. The first dose is given at age one, and a second dose at age four.  The vaccine is safe, and is also effective. Before the mumps vaccine existed, mumps was a common childhood disease in Canada and the United States.

Protect yourself, and your children:

1. Check your own and your children’s immunization records to be sure that you and your children are up to date on your vaccines. Call Health Link (811) if you are unsure how to find or check your immunization records, and/or to learn how to make an appointment for immunization. Mumps-specific recommendations include:

2. Anyone with symptoms of pain on chewing or swallowing and/or swelling of the cheek or jaw should call Health Link (811) or a doctor to book an assessment and consideration of testing. If you think that you or your child has mumps, be sure to call ahead and explain the symptoms before you go to a doctor's office.

3. Anyone with symptoms as above should stay home from school/work for 5 days from the start of swelling.

4. To prevent spreading infections, always:

For more information on routine childhood immunization, and the diseases that these immunization prevent, visit www.immunizealberta.ca.