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Health Unit offers catch-up shots for mumps

SIMCOE, ON, JAN. 28, 2009 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is offering mumps clinics at Fanshawe College in Simcoe on Feb. 9 and 25 from 10 a.m. to noon as part of a provincial government response to mumps outbreaks in Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Alberta and British Columbia.

“College and university students are particularly at risk because they may not have received a second dose of mumps vaccine required for full protection,” noted Health Unit Clinical Services Program Coordinator Wendy Holmes. “Also, because students live and socialize in a closer environment, this contagious disease can spread more quickly among them, which happened in recent cases across Canada.”

Persons born before 1970 are assumed to be immune to mumps through natural infection. In Canada, most people born between 1970 and 1991 received a single dose of the combined MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. However, to be fully protected from contracting mumps, two doses of the MMR vaccine are required. People born in 1992 or after should have received two doses of the MMR vaccine at some time before entering elementary school.

“Therefore, individuals born between 1970 and 1991 are potentially susceptible to mumps infection because they have only received one dose of MMR vaccine,” Holmes explained.

In September 2008, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced funding to provide mumps-containing MMR vaccine at campus clinics to students attending any post-secondary institution. The vaccination is also available through family doctors.

“We’re encouraging young adults to review their personal immunization records to determine if they need a second dose of the vaccine,” Holmes said.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT MUMPS

  • Mumps is a contagious disease spread from person-to-person through direct contact with respiratory droplets from the mouth or nose of an infected person. This can happen when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Mumps can also be spread through sharing drinks and kissing.
  • Mumps is preventable by immunization. Symptoms, which usually last 10 days, include fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, tiredness, loss of appetite; followed by painful swelling of one or both salivary glands found toward the back of each cheek, in the area between the ear and jaw.
  • Mumps is an acute viral illness and, therefore, cannot be treated with antibiotics. People with the disease need to spend on average nine days in isolation to make sure the disease is not spread to others.
  • The combined vaccine that protects against mumps, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), is safe and effective in protecting against all three diseases.

To learn more about the disease and the vaccination program, check the ministry website at www.ontario.ca/mumps or contact the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623.

Media contact:
Wendy Holmes, Program Coordinator
Clinical Services Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3152 or 905-318-6623