Brandon is facing a mumps outbreak, with six confirmed cases in the first week of February alone.
Since Sept. 1, Manitoba has had 139 confirmed cases of the mumps reported to Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living.
Until this month, Prairie Mountain Health only had four confirmed cases since September, said a spokesperson with PMH.
The majority of the cases are in individuals between the ages of 17 and 29, according to Manitoba Health. Many of the individuals who contracted the virus across Manitoba have been involved in sporting events as players, coaches or referees.
The Brandon Wheat Kings have been plagued with the mumps as of late, confirming two positive tests and at least four other unconfirmed cases among members of the organization.
The Western Hockey League team remains tight-lipped on who’s been affected, but of the Wheat Kings that could possibly have the mumps, two are still in high school.
The Brandon School Division could not comment on specific cases, but a notice from Manitoba Health regarding a mumps outbreak has been posted on their website to keep parents in the loop, said BSD assistant superintendent Greg Malazdrewicz.
"Public Health has put out some general information, and we’ve circulated that information with a focus on high schools because the older students seem to have a harder time with (the mumps)," Malazdrewicz said. "We work pretty closely with Public Health all the time with regards to what seasonal bugs are rolling through the community because it does have an impact on schools."
BSD is challenged in that they don’t know which students are not up to date on their vaccinations, Malazdrewicz said.
"The people who are most at risk in situations like this are people who have opted not to immunize, but that’s a fairly small component of our community," Malazdrewicz said.
Another challenge with the mumps is that it’s contagious before symptoms fully appear, Malazdrewicz said.
"It’s wiser for us to generally maintain good protocols, in terms of cleaning and encouraging kids to use sanitizer and wash their hands regularly with soap," Malazdrewicz said, adding that since the first wave of H1N1, cleaning and sanitizing protocols have been upgraded in the division.
Schools are also cautioning students who feel sick to make sure and stay home until they are feeling 100 per cent better, Malazdrewicz said.
Mumps is a highly contagious virus that is best known for the painful swelling it causes in the cheeks and neck area, according to Manitoba Health. Other symptoms are a fever, headache or earache, tiredness, sore muscles, dry mouth, trouble talking, chewing or swallowing, or loss of appetite. Most people recover within a week to 10 days.
The mumps virus can be spread two to three days before and four to five days after symptoms appear. Some people infected with mumps may not have any symptoms at all, but can still spread the virus to other people.
People who think they might have mumps, or have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with mumps, should contact their health-care provider or phone Health Links at 1-888-315-9257.
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