British Columbia warns of mumps outbreak

The British Columbia Center for Disease Control issued a health alert on Monday asking parents to make sure that their children are immunized with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine after 77 cases of the mumps were recorded.

The alert also asks that parents ensure their own vaccinations are up to date, the Examiner reports. Fifty of the 77 cases were from an earlier outbreak in Whistler and Squamish, while the rest were in the lower mainland and the Vancouver area. This is the first mumps outbreak in the province since 2008.

Approximately 70 percent of the cases were in those between 18 and 35 years of age, but infections have ranged from people one year of age to 54 years of age, according to the Examiner.

An acute viral disease, mumps is characterized by fever, swelling and tenderness in one or multiple salivary glands. The disease reaches maximum infectiousness between two days before onset of illness to four days afterward.

Mumps complications may include orchitis, which is a risk factor for testicular cancer, encephalitis and spontaneous abortion. Male sterility is a rare possible outcome.

Because mumps is extremely contagious, anyone with the infection should avoid exposing others, especially in emergency rooms and medical waiting rooms, according to the Examiner.