Mumps continues to spread in Manitoba with eight more cases in the last week.
As of March 9, there have been 192 confirmed cases of mumps since Sept. 1, the highest number of cases in two decades. There are typically four to eight cases a year in the province, health officials say.
Initially, the majority of cases were in university students age 18 to 29 and living in Winnipeg or involved in sports. But health officials said mumps cases are now being seen in all ages and throughout Manitoba.
The virus is found in saliva and respiratory droplets. It is spread through coughing, sneezing, sharing drinks or utensils, or kissing.
Symptoms include fever, swollen cheeks, neck pain, headache, loss of appetite and muscle aches and pains.
Complications can include deafness, encephalitis, meningitis and sterility. Last week, Manitoba medical officer of health Dr. Richard Rusk said there have been a handful of cases in Manitoba resulting in sterility and deafness during the latest outbreak.
The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine protects against mumps but vaccination rates have fallen. The lower vaccination rates have contributed to weaker herd immunity, putting people with compromised immune systems at risk, provincial officials said.
Immunization against mumps is available free as part of Manitoba's routine immunization schedule.
For questions related to mumps or the vaccine, Manitobans can contact Health Links at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 (toll free).