Pa­cific fam­i­lies hit hard­est by mumps out­break

Papakura Courier - - FRONT PAGE - EMILY FORD

Auck­land’s largest mumps out­break in years is af­fect­ing the Pa­cific Is­land com­mu­nity worst.

More than 300 peo­ple have been af­fected by the virus since Jan­uary, which is the worst in 16 years, and more than 60 per cent of the cases are Pa­cific peo­ple.

Auck­land Re­gional Public Health Ser­vice med­i­cal of­fi­cer Dr Josephine Her­man says peo­ple who grew up in the Pa­cific Is­lands may not be im­mu­nised for mumps.

Coun­tries like Fiji, Tonga, Tu­valu, and Kiri­bati don’t in­clude the mumps vac­cine with the measles and rubella vac­cines like New Zealand does, she says.

‘‘We need these fam­i­lies to know they have to be im­mu­nised here for mumps, es­pe­cially be­fore they travel to the Is­lands or when they have vis­i­tors from the Is­lands,’’ Her­man says.

The mumps out­break be­gan in West Auck­land, but al­most half the new cases are in the Coun­ties Manukau Dis­trict Health Board re­gion.

Of the 315 peo­ple af­fected by the virus, 43 per cent are in Waitem­ata¯, 37 per cent are in Coun­ties Manukau, and 20 per cent are in the Auck­land DHB re­gion.

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 lead to in­fer­til­ity.

The pri­mary sign of mumps is swollen sali­vary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out. Other symp­toms in­clude headache, mus­cle aches and pain while chew­ing or swal­low­ing.

Her­man at­tributes the mumps out­break to low im­mu­ni­sa­tion rates, and says there’s a gener- ation of young peo­ple who are also at risk of measles and rubella.

Her­man says some adults may also have missed out on the sec- ond dose of the MMR vac­cine as chil­dren, when the tim­ing of the dose was moved from 11 years to four in 2001.

Any per­son who has not re­ceived two doses of the MMR vac­cine could ac­cess this for free and fam­i­lies are be­ing urged to check vac­ci­na­tion records if un­sure.

123RF

The mumps out­break be­gan in West Auck­land, but al­most half the new cases are in the Coun­ties Manukau Dis­trict Health Board re­gion.

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