Manitoba mumps outbreak 100 times higher than normal

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The rate of mumps in Manitoba is more than 100 times higher than usual, according to numbers from Manitoba Health.

There have been 853 confirmed cases of mumps in the province from Sept. 1, 2016, to Aug. 31, 2017.

“Normally we would have maybe eight in a year,” said Dr. Richard Rusk, a provincial medical officer of health.

“[It] is definitely the highest number we’ve had in at least 20, maybe even 30 years.”

Manitoba’s mumps outbreak has been spreading for more than a year.

The outbreak started in university students and sports teams, but Rusk said it has spread from those groups.

“It ended up in the rural areas and then continued to spread, not as rapidly as it did in Winnipeg, but it continued really slowly over the rest of the year,” he said.

Richard Rusk

Dr. Richard Rusk, a provincial medical officer of health, says there have been 853 confirmed cases of mumps in the province from Sept. 1, 2016, to Aug. 31, 2017. (Kelly Malone/CBC)

Now mumps have made their way into northern Manitoba, Rusk said.

In June, there were 117 cases, with 98 in the Northern Regional Health Authority, nine in the Prairie Mountain Health region, five detected by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and five in total for the other health regions.

Rusk said it’s spreading in the north because people live in tight-knit communities and they report symptoms faster, possibly because of extensive education campaigns. There is an 80 per cent vaccination rate in the north, compared to about 73 per cent in the province overall, he said.

Rusk said he is optimistic that the numbers of new mumps cases is starting to wane, but the numbers still remain high.

Mumps in Manitoba

(CBC)

He added that there have only been six cases with severe outcomes such as deafness or orchitis, a swelling of the testicles that can result in infertility.

However, with students heading back into school, there is concern that another spike in mumps could be on its way, Rusk said.

‘If you are feeling sick, do not be kissing anyone’ – Dr. Richard Rusk

“If you are feeling sick, really sorry — someone else has to take your notes. Do not go to class. If you are at the pub, do not be sharing your beer,” he said.

“And if you are feeling sick, do not be kissing anyone, because that we know for sure spreads it.”

The most important thing, Rusk said, is to make sure to get vaccinated.

Chris Minaker, senior executive officer at the University of Winnipeg, said mumps has not been an issue so far.

“This hasn’t been an issue for us at this point, but we work with the WRHA to maintain vigilance on public health issues,” he said in an email to CBC News.

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Manitoba mumps outbreak 100 times higher than normal

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