The Cypress Health Region in southwestern Saskatchewan has confirmed there are four cases of mumps in its area.
On Thursday, the region said positive lab results from Winnipeg have confirmed four cases affecting youth and adults. They are also investigating other suspected cases.
Manitoba and Alberta have both recently seen mumps outbreaks. In southern Alberta, an outbreak was declared in February after exposure to the virus through the Medicine Hat Tigers, a Western Hockey League team.
Dr. David Torr, medical health officer for the Cypress and Heartland health regions, said the cases in the Cypress Health Region also include individuals from the hockey community. He added some are from the Western Hockey League, but some are not.
“We are not totally surprised by the hockey community component because there’s an increasing number of cases across the hockey community and pretty much across the country and we had prior warning in Alberta than in Manitoba as well with individuals getting ill in hockey teams,” Torr said.
“We know that we’ve had teams from Saskatchewan playing with these other teams from Alberta and Manitoba and also members from those teams visiting and playing in Saskatchewan with our teams.”
There was also one case in the Heartland Health Region, but Torr said while the illness was just identified there, the person weas just visiting the region.
Mumps is an extremely contagious viral infection of the salivary glands. Symptoms include a low-level fever, headache, sore throat, muscle and joint aches, and swollen facial glands on one or both sides of the jaw. It can also affect the reproductive organs, sometimes with long-term complications.
Torr said it’s important for the hockey community to make sure they are up-to-date on their mumps immunizations.
“If you are immunized and you do get [a] infection, you’re going to have much less symptoms and also much shorter duration of your illness. You recover much faster because it’s not as a severe.”
“That helps not only yourself but also minimizing the spread of the illness.”
Torr also said it’s important for people to wash their hands frequently and not share drinks, utensils or lipstick.
Earlier in March, the province said there were two mumps cases in the province, with one more under investigation.
According to Torr, other areas in Saskatchewan, including Regina and Saskatoon, are dealing with potential cases.
The WHL has confirmed one player in the Swift Current Broncos did have the mumps earlier in March but has since recovered.
While there are cases associated with the hockey community, Torr said in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, doctors are seeing cases that are not necessarily linked to the sport.
“Sometimes that’s what happens. A cluster of cases will start in a certain group or where people are congregating but then it spreads out to the rest of the community.”