The Eastern Health authority says there have been at least 6 cases of confirmed mumps in Newfoundland since December, with as many as 13 others being tested for the virus.
As you may recall, the mumps made headlines across Canada and the United States early last year when as many as 14 players from 5 different NHL teams became sidelined with the contagious virus. While there is currently no risk towards other parts of Canada with this latest mumps outbreak, it’s still a good idea to educate yourself on what the mumps are and how you can protect yourself against it.
The mumps is a condition that affects the salivary glands, which are found on each side of the neck (located just behind/below the ears) and are responsible for producing saliva. When you have the mumps, these salivary glands can become tender and painful, as well as swollen. You can also develop flu-like symptoms such as body aches and pains, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, and a low-grade fever. The mumps is spread through saliva and mucus from the nose, mouth and throat. This can happen as a result of sneezing or coughing, sharing drinks and utensils, or direct physical contact with an infected individual (i.e. kissing.) The mumps can be present in your body for as many as 2 weeks before you notice any symptoms, therefore you could also be unknowingly infecting others.
In order to prevent mumps, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends getting the MMR vaccine. This vaccine not only protects against the mumps, but also against the measles and rubella. This vaccine is typically given in 2 doses, with the first dose being given to children between the ages of 12 months and 15 months, and the second dose between ages 4 and 6 years. Teenagers and adults can also get this vaccine. The MMRV vaccine can also be given; this not only protects against the mumps, measles and rubella, but against the chickenpox virus known as varicella, too.
Since the mumps is a virus, it will not respond to antibiotics. The best course of treatment that Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends is making sure you’re getting plenty of rest. In order to reduce fever you should take over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, as well as making sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids (water!), as a fever can lead to dehydration. Chewing can also be painful as a result of having swollen glands, so make sure you’re sticking to a softer diet (i.e. yogurt, soup, etc.)