Cases of mumps spreads rapidly
Auckland’s mumps cases continue to spread rapidly as the city deals with the most serious outbreak in more than 20 years.
More than 440 cases have been reported in the region so far this year, with about 5 per cent of those cases needing hospitalisation.
Health authorities say the outbreak began in West Auckland and has now spread to south Auckland and across the region.
The last similar outbreak of mumps was in 1994 when there were between 200-300 cases reported.
Since then only handfuls of cases were reported each year, many from overseas.
Auckland Regional Public Health Service medical officer of health Josephine Herman said she had seen mumps-related meningitis and testes inflammation.
The most common complication of the current outbreak had been orchitis, which is inflammation of the testicles.
Mumps is an infectious viral illness which can cause fever, soreness, swelling in the face and general malaise.
Most people recover after a few weeks, but mumps can have serious complications.
The disease can cause inflammation of tissue surrounding the brain (meningitis), inflamed testicles or ovaries, and permanent deafness. It can also lead to infertility.
The primary sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out - the term ‘‘mumps’’ is an old expression for lumps or bumps within the cheeks.
Other symptoms include headache, muscle aches and pain while chewing or swallowing.
ARPHS is warning that a large number of 10 to 29 year olds are not only at risk of mumps but also of measles and rubella due to some parents rejecting the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.
The service said the ‘‘lost generation’’ of unprotected young people was partly due to the MMR controversy in the late 1990s, something which has been thoroughly discredited.
Everyone needed to urgently check that they had had two doses of the MMR vaccine and to get immunised if they needed to, Herman said.
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