Mumps case at Halifax high school prompts public health warning
Case announced a day after health officials said they were tracking 3 cases of measles
A case of mumps at Halifax West High School has public health officials warning students and staff to watch for symptoms of the infectious disease.
In a notice to students and parents Wednesday, the school wrote that it had been notified of the case by public health. It is not clear whether the infected person is a student or staff member.
"We have determined that we may see new cases of mumps at the school over the next two weeks," the notice said.
Symptoms can include:
- Fever, headache and muscle aches.
- Swollen glands in the jaw.
- Swollen and painful testicles in teenage boys and adult men.
Mumps is spread by discharge from the nose and throat, and can be transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or sharing food and drink.
"The mumps is not what we would consider a serious illness; it doesn't have severe complications in most people," said Dr. Trevor Arnason, the medical officer of health for Halifax.
"In most people, it will be a mild illness that lasts two to three weeks."
Mumps can have serious complications, particularly for pregnant women, however those complications are rare. The Nova Scotia Health Authority is advising anyone who has symptoms of mumps to call their doctor, and to isolate themselves from work, school and child-care facilities.
The health authority said most high school students are protected by two shots of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, but students who haven't been vaccinated should ask their doctor for the shot.
Two doses of the MMR vaccine are available for free for everyone who lives in Nova Scotia and was born after 1970.
"Unlike diseases like measles, which have been eliminated, we do see cases of mumps regularly in Nova Scotia," said Arnason.
"We have seen other cases in the past month, and we have linked a couple of the cases to each other. So mumps is around. We see outbreaks occasionally."
In 2007, a mumps outbreak at Halifax universities ended up infecting roughly 800 people.
The mumps announcement came one day after public health officials said they were trying to determine the source of three cases of measles.
Arnason said Thursday the health authority has not found more cases of measles, and none of the patients with measles was in contact with the patient with mumps.
"There's no connection between these cases," said Arnason. "We've done our public health contacts and determined who was affected by each, and there's no relationship between these."
Measles is a more contagious disease than mumps and has more serious complications, he said. The health authority has alerted more than 100 people who may have come in contact with measles.
"We've put in a lot of effort to identify places that those people had been, and close contacts they had, and getting communications out to those people about the symptoms," he said.
Symptoms of measles
On Wednesday, Cole Harbour Place announced on Facebook that a person infected with measles had been at the Scotia 1 arena on the evening of Feb. 7 and Feb. 11. It said anyone who was present at the time should seek a doctor's care for symptoms of measles, which a health authority handout says could include:
- Fever, runny nose.
- Red, watery eyes or pink eye.
- A cough.
- Small white spots on the inside of the mouth.
- A rash that starts on the face and neck, then spreads.
Cole Harbour Place said symptoms are most likely to show up between Feb. 14 and March 4.
Arnason said the health authority is still investigating where the measles could have come from and haven't ruled out a link between the virus and international travel.