Lethbridge students urged to get second dose of mumps vaccine
Health officials are offering free mumps vaccines to students and staff at two Lethbridge post-secondary schools afterfive recent cases of the illness.
Chinook Health confirmed four cases of the mumpsat Lethbridge College andoneat the University of Lethbridge. There are usually three to 16 cases in Alberta every year.
Health officials have not found a link between the cases, so they will begin an immunization campaign Nov. 1 at the two schools.
Free mumps shots will be available to students and staff born after 1970, with the program expandingprovincewide in December for all Abertans aged 17 to 26.
"Most Albertans in this age group received a first dose of the vaccine in early childhood," said Dr. Karen Grimsrud, Alberta's acting chief medical officer of health, in a news release. "Recent studies show that a second dose provides improved, longer-lasting effectiveness."
After a mumps outbreak reaching almost 800 cases in the Maritime provinces earlier this year, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended a second dose of mumps vaccine be offered to post-secondary students.
Common symptoms of the mumps include fever and swelling, and pain in the parotid glands, located in front of the ears and below the cheekbones.
For most patients, the symptoms run their course in one to two weeks with no treatment, but mumps is highly contagious, spread through coughing, sneezing or sharing drinks.
In rare cases, complications from the mumps can lead to meningitis or brain inflammation.