With 24 confirmed cases of mumps in the Edmonton area this year, Alberta Health Services is expanding its mumps outbreak to include the Capital Region.
AHS announced Tuesday the outbreak was in place for its entire Edmonton Zone. Previously, the mumps outbreak in the Edmonton area was specific to the University of Alberta after four cases were reported at the school in late February.
“An outbreak is simply seeing more cases than we typically see, or what we would expect to see, that are unrelated to travel,” said Dr. Joanna Oda, a medical officer of health with AHS,
Oda said the Edmonton outbreak is not related to the University of Alberta, where there have been eight confirmed cases of mumps this year.
Initially, Oda said the bulk of the mumps cases were among young adults in the university age range, but that has since changed.
“We’re beginning to see the cases expand a little bit more, so people who are a little bit older. But also, people who are a little bit younger, so getting into that high school age group,” she said.
For the duration of the outbreak, anyone who lives, works or goes to school in the Edmonton Zone and was born in or after 1970 can receive up to two free doses of vaccine.
Those who have already received two doses of the vaccine do not need any additional doses, AHS said. People born before 1970 are assumed to be immune because mumps was extremely common before the vaccine was available.
“To stop the further spread of illness, and protect ourselves and our loved ones, we encourage all Edmonton Zone residents to ensure that they are up to date with all of their immunizations,” Oda said.
“If you’re unsure of your immunization status, call Health Link at 811 or your local public health centre.”
Mumps is a contagious viral infection that can cause painful swelling of the salivary glands.
It usually goes away in about 10 days, but, in some cases, it can cause complications that affect the brain, the testicles, the ovaries, or the pancreas. It can also cause deafness in children.
Mumps is primarily spread through contact with infected saliva. People are encouraged to wash their hands and avoid sharing things like cups, water bottles and utensils.
Watch below: What is mumps? How is it spread? How can people protect themselves? Dr. Joanna Oda with AHS explains.
A mumps outbreak was declared earlier this year in AHS’s South Zone, where 15 cases of mumps have been reported in 2017. Calgary does not currently have an outbreak in place but 12 cases of mumps have been confirmed so far this year in the area.
So far this year, there have been 51 lab-confirmed cases of mumps in Alberta.
In 2016, there were eight cases of mumps in Alberta.