July 20th, 2024

Nine confirmed cases of mumps in Medicine Hat

By Gillian Slade on February 23, 2017.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com  @MHNGillianSlade

There are now nine laboratory confirmed cases of mumps in Medicine Hat and students at one school in particular are more likely to have been exposed, says Alberta Health Services (AHS).

AHS sent letters to schools advising them of the outbreak and alerting them to the early symptoms to minimize transmission, said Dr. Vivien Suttorp, south zone medical officer of health with AHS.

“We were directed by the medical officer of health to share a letter with schools where confirmed or suspected cases exist so we’ll be sharing that with Medicine Hat High School,” said Mark Davidson, superintendent SD 76.

The letter will include symptoms to look for, transmission and treatment, he explained.

“My conversation with the medical officer of health indicated that all of the confirmed or suspected cases were directly connected to one group of people,” said Davidson. “Any of the people connected to that group of people are associated with the one school.”

The first couple of cases identified last week were with the Medicine Hat Tigers organization.

In public health identifying when, where and how people were exposed is important, said Suttorp. While students at Medicine Hat High School were identified as most likely exposed others may have been exposed too and need to be alert to the possibility.

“People can be infectious for up to seven days before they have symptoms,” said Suttorp noting that it is very hard to contain an outbreak for this reason. If you develop symptoms stay home, call Health Link 811 or your family doctor.

Mumps is spread through droplets. You have to share saliva with somebody and this would include sharing a bottle or sandwich or someone sneezing on you, said Suttorp. It can take 15 to 25 days for symptoms to develop. These may include fatigue, headache, a low-grade fever and then gland swelling under the chin and corner of the jaw. The gland swelling, on one side of the face or both, is the common hallmark feature and it can hurt.

A measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is given to babies between 12 and 24 months of age and followed with a booster shot when the child is between the age of four and six, said Suttorp.

In 2007/8 there was an large outbreak primarily in the young and post-secondary population, said Suttorp. Those affected had only had one dose of the vaccine.

Suttorp would like parents to check the vaccination records of their children to ensure they were immunized and also given the booster shot.

Across Alberta the number of children getting that initial vaccine is 87.1 per cent. The target, in order to protect the population, is 98 per cent, said Suttorp. In Medicine Hat we sit at 89.4 per cent for the first dose. In Cypress County that number is 86.4 per cent. Across the entire south zone it is 82.4 per cent.

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