Fifth case of mumps confirmed in six weeks

Vaccination is the best protection against mumps.
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Vaccination is the best protection against mumps.

A fifth case of mumps in six weeks has been confirmed in the MidCentral District Health Board region.

The patient is in isolation and Public Health Services staff are working with those the person had come into contact with to reduce the risk of the highly-infectious illness spreading further.

Medical officer of health Rob Weir said many areas around New Zealand were reporting an increase in cases of mumps, with 692 cases between September 2016 and October 4.

A cluster of 10 cases in Dunedin in August prompted Otago tertiary institutions' student health team to promote free booster shots of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine among students.

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But so far, no particular age group had emerged as being more at risk in the MidCentral region.

Weir said those affected came from a broad range of ages.

Nationally, 42 per cent of cases had been among 10- to 17-year-olds, and 30.2 per cent among 20- to 25-year-olds.

Massey University spokesman James Gardiner said Student Health was alerted to reports of the first cases in August.

"But there were no known cases among students, so they took no further steps."

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If there was any indication students were affected, the health team would act to ensure they knew what help was available, provide advice on how to keep themselves safe from infection, and help with quarantine if necessary.

The symptoms of mumps included painful swelling of the face, fever and headaches.

Weir said most people recovered after seven to 10 days without problems, but there could be serious complications.

Those problems could include inflammation of tissue surrounding the brain, inflamed testicles or ovaries, and deafness.

The best protection against the illness was the MMR vaccine.

People who were unsure whether they had been vaccinated were advised to check with their practice nurse.

Weir said given the increasing number of cases of mumps in the community, anyone who showed likely symptoms should assume that was what they had.

It was important for people to isolate themselves at home to reduce the risk of passing it to others.

Patients should contact their doctor and arrange an appointment rather than just turn up in a waiting room, where they could infect other people.

Healthline could also provide advice.

 - Stuff

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