ST. JOHN’S, NL – Residents in eastern Newfoundland are being advised to protect themselves after an increase in cases of parotitis and mumps.
According to Eastern Health, there have been 19 cases of parotitis reported by physicians in the eastern region since last month.
Parotitis, the swelling of the parotid or salivary glands on one or both sides of the face, is caused by an infection with mumps virus, influenza A or other respiratory viruses.
Eastern Health’s Medical Officer of Health and Communicable Disease Control team are working with health-care staff to monitor the situation, investigating the cases reported to Public Health, identifing close contacts of those who have tested positively for the virus, and implementing the precautionary measures required to control the spread of the virus.
The mumps virus is spread through close contact with an infected person through nose and throat secretions from coughs and sneezes. It is also spread by contact with an infected person’s saliva through sharing drinks, cigarettes, drinking bottles, food or by kissing.
The best protection against the mumps is the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. People at risk of contracting the mumps include anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine and who has never had mumps.
Symptoms of mumps may appear from 12 to 25 days after contact with someone who is infected with mumps, and usually begin with nonspecific symptoms such as low-grade fever, headache, aches and pains and loss of appetite.
After one or more days, the salivary glands in the checks and jaw area become swollen and painful. Individuals are infectious up to seven days before and five days following swelling of the salivary glands.
Mumps can cause serious complications in infants under one year of age, pregnant women in their first trimester, and people who have problems with their immune system may have difficulty fighting off the infection.
There is no effective treatment for mumps, only supportive treatment, which includes bed rest, fluids, fever and pain reduction with acetaminophen. Hot or cold compresses may also ease the pain in the salivary glands.