Toronto Public Health has issued a warning about the outbreak of mumps in postsecondary schools across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area.
Humber manager of Health and Safety, Margaret Fung, released a statement on Tuesday stating that mumps continue to be a health issue on campus.
Mumps is a viral infection caused by the contagious mumps virus and can easily spread amongst people through infected saliva, according to Toronto Public Health (TPH). During the flu season, coughing and sneezing can spread mumps through saliva droplets. If people’s hands or used tissues have traces of salivary discharges, this can also result in the circulation of the virus.
“Initially, there are flu-like symptoms, fever, headache and muscle aches. It then causes the swelling of the glands on the sides of the face,” said Dr. Francia Jayarajah, a family physician based in Toronto.
The parotid salivary glands are located near the cheek and jaw area. Pain, tenderness and swelling can last from two to 10 days.
TPH recommends if students and staff are developing symptoms, they see a doctor, rest, drink plenty of fluids and isolate themselves to avoid further circulation because the mumps virus may be contagious for up to a week after the onset of the symptoms. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that isolation is key to controlling the virus in a school setting.
Dr. Lisa Berger, Associate Medical Officer of Health at Toronto Public Health, said in a letter that, “two doses of mumps vaccine (MMR or MMRV) are recommended for all adults born after 1970.”
She added that vaccination is the primary way to prevent contracting the virus. It is urged for all students and staff to check their vaccination history to have their immune statuses verified.
Josh Cheng, a second-year student in the Pharmacy Technician program at Humber, said, “I don’t know too much about mumps. It’s scary but I’m being extra cautious about what I do.”
TPH advises to not share drinks, utensils, food or water bottles. Since mumps is an airborne virus, it is important to be aware of the people in the surrounding area.
Dr. Jayarajah emphasizes that while being cautious on an everyday basis is integral, “getting your vaccination is the most important thing you can do for prevention purposes.”