Spikes in mumps cases renew calls for vaccinations
Northwestern Health Unit says despite close proximity to Manitoba, no mumps cases in region
Public health officials in northwestern Ontario say they're keeping an eye on recent spikes in cases of the mumps in parts of Canada and the United States.
One of the hot spots is Manitoba, and that has the Northwestern Health Unit, which covers the far western part of northern Ontario, in contact with health care providers in that province.
"We know that people are very mobile nowadays," said Karen Kulchyski, a public health nurse and a specialist with the health unit's infectious disease program.
"Winnipeg is a frequent shopping, sports and entertainment destination for many of the people in our region."
"We have an increased level of concern," she continued. "But we know the immunization coverage from our area is quite high."
As of Feb. 24, there were 176 confirmed mumps cases in Manitoba since Sept. 1, according to health officials. The province typically sees four to eight cases of the infection a year.
The illness has also been making headlines for its recent spread through some National Hockey League teams.
Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, headaches and gland swelling and in rare cases, sterility in men. It spreads through saliva and respiratory droplets.
Public health officials are encouraging people to check their immunization records. Anyone who has symptoms they think might be mumps should call their health care provider or local health unit, Kulchyski said.