Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health medical health officer for central Vancouver Island, said mumps is totally preventable with individuals who get vaccinated. (Westerly File Photo)

Mumps cluster on West Coast prompts vaccination reminder

Less than five cases of the mumps virus have been reported in the Tofino-Ucluelet area.

Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) confirmed on Monday, that a cluster of mumps has been found in less than five people living on the West Coast.

Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Hasselback said VIHA was clearly able to identify how the mumps virus spread from person to person.

“We know what happened. An outbreak would happen when we start seeing a spread when we can’t really link the cases together,” said Dr. Hasselback. “When we see mumps, we don’t usually see a lot of additional cases. And it is totally preventable with individuals who have received vaccinations.”

RELATED: Measles vaccine rates double for Island Health

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Dr. Hasselback said there is a very high level of immunization to measles and mumps in schools.

“School settings tend to be where we see outbreaks spread. Even for mumps. If we’ve got that level of protection there, hopefully, and I gotta stress hopefully, we may actually be able to contain the small clusters that happen. I’m hoping that’s what will happen with the cases that occurred on the West Coast,” said Dr. Hasselback.

Routine measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines are administered at 12-months of age and again just before entering grade school. The MMR vaccination is readily available at community health clinics and local pharmacies. To contact the Tofino and Ucluelet Public Health Unit about getting vaccinated call: 250-725-4020.

Hasselback stressed the value of vaccinating.

“If we are looking at something like measles, not only is it a fairly severe and debilitating illness itself with long-term complications, it does have a mortality rate of about 0.1 per cent, fortunately we don’t see many cases of measles,” he said.

“For mumps, the major concern is actually associated with the development of either a testicular problem or a problem with the ovaries. It’s uncomfortable to get these swollen salivary glands. It’s the complications associated with sterility that actually encourage people to get immunized.”

Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 31 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents., according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“[Measles] is a bigger threat. We have a global measles outbreak in this point in time. It’s the one that tends to spread fairly readily within the communities unlike mumps, which doesn’t spread very readily,” said Dr. Hasselback.

He went on to say that vaccines generally provide lifelong protection.

“Parents should always be concerned about any of the communicable diseases that are preventable by vaccines. The best thing that they can do for their children and everyone else’s children is to ensure that all children are vaccinated.”



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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