UAlberta health officials are asking students to make sure their mumps immunizations are up to date in the wake of four confirmed cases on the university's north campus last week.
University of Alberta health officials are encouraging students and staff to check whether their immunization to the mumps is up to date after four cases were confirmed at the university’s north campus late last week.
Mumps is an infectious disease with symptoms that may include pain in the jaw and cheeks, as well as swelling. Some may feel like they have a bad cold or influenza instead.
The disease is spread when someone infected coughs or sneezes near you or shares food and drinks.
Joanna Oda, zone medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services, working closely with the U of A’s health services, said it’s especially important for people born in or after 1970 to make sure their immunization is up to date.
“Because everyone who is under the age of 46 wouldn’t have been as exposed to the virus due to widespread immunization, it’s all the more important they are vaccinated,” she added.
“We do recommend that everyone born after 1970 gets at least one dose. Then we bump it up to two doses for certain groups, including students.” —Joanna Oda, AHS zone medical officer of health
Typically, children get their first immunization against the mumps in the MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine when they are one year old, then a second vaccination when they start school. If you’re unsure of your immunization status, you can call your local public health unit in your hometown. You can also contact the same office to get the immunization if you don’t have it, advised AHS.
“We do recommend that everyone born after 1970 gets at least one dose. Then we bump it up to two doses for certain groups, including students,” said Oda.
“We do see outbreaks in post-secondary institutions throughout the country. It’s a gathering place of young people and there’s lots of saliva sharing in university.”
She added that, although some people may remain vulnerable after getting the vaccine, “the key message is that university students receive two doses of the vaccination.”
Kevin Friese, the U of A’s assistant dean of students, health and wellness, added, “There’s no specific information from Alberta Health Services indicating that infected individuals are to be quarantined or segregated, but certainly it is important that [students] are resting up, creating a little bit of distance for themselves and ensuring they’re staying hydrated.”
8 things you need to know about the mumps
- Symptoms include swelling and pain in the jaw (one or both cheeks may look swollen), fever, headache, earache, sore throat, pain when you swallow or open your mouth, tiredness, aching in muscles and joints, and poor appetite and vomiting.
- Mumps is easily spread when an infected person coughs or sneeze near you or shares food or drink.
- People infected with mumps are contagious for up to seven days before and nine days after symptoms appear.
- If you become ill with mumps symptoms, stay inside and away from public places until five to nine days after the salivary glands first start to swell.
- Mumps usually goes away on its own in about 10 days. But in some cases, it can cause complications that affect the brain (meningitis), the testicles (orchitis), the ovaries (oophoritis) or the pancreas (pancreatitis).
- To help prevent infection, check your immunization record and get immunized. Wash your hands often with soap and water, avoiding sharing drinks or eating utensils, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as equipment, doorknobs, tables and counters.
- If you think that you have the mumps, be sure to call ahead and explain the symptoms before you go to a doctor’s office.
- Stay up to date on the most current campus and community-wide recommendations and self-care tips by visiting the University Health Centre or Alberta Health Services.
(Sources: Alberta Health Services, University Health Centre)