Mumps confirmed at 2 Halifax-area schools

Health officials in Halifax are warning parents with children enrolled at Shannon Park Elementary and Chebucto Heights Elementary that a case of mumps has surfaced in each school.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority warns the schools may see new cases of mumps appear the next few weeks.

Mumps, which is not usually a serious disease, is a viral infection that is spread through saliva and mucus and transferred by coughing, sneezing or sharing food and drinks.

Wondering if you have mumps?

Symptoms of mumps include:

- Pain or swelling of glands in the jaw.

- Fever, headaches or other body aches.

- Pain when swallowing or opening mouth.

Doesn't appear to be an outbreak

Dr. Trevor Arnason, the regional medical officer of health for Halifax, said it is common to see a case of mumps surface every now and then.

"We've had a few cases this year," Arnason said. "There's no evidence of an outbreak right now"

He said some of the cases have been linked to travel.

"We do see (mumps) more than once a year on average but this year we are seeing more because there is increased activity in Ontario, Manitoba and other parts of Canada."

Tips to avoid getting ill

The health authority said the best protection against mumps is vaccination but also stresses the importance of preventative care.

"Don't share drinks or water bottles and make sure you cough into your sleeve instead of your hand," said Arnason.

Most school students are already vaccinated for mumps with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

If you are unsure of your vaccination history, the health authority recommends you visit your family doctor.

The two doses of the MMR vaccine is available to anyone in Nova Scotia born after 1970 at no cost.