Toronto Star

Mumps outbreak may be linked to bars

Toronto public health warns kissing and sharing drinks can spread the virus


Toronto Public Health is warning the public about an outbreak of mumps that may be spreading in downtown bars.

The agency is investigat­ing 14 labconfirm­ed cases of the contagious disease, and other cases under investigat­ion, with all those sickened between the ages of 18 and 35.

“The investigat­ion to date has identified that many of these cases have frequented bars in the west downtown core of Toronto. This may be a contributi­ng factor in the circulatio­n of this viral infection,” the release states. The mumps virus, found in saliva and respirator­y droplets, is spread through coughing, sneezing and coming into contact with saliva by kissing or sharing drinks, utensils, food or water bottles.

“A major factor contributi­ng to outbreaks is being in a crowded environmen­t, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team or living in a dormitory with a person who has the mumps,” public health says.

The risk to the general public from the infection is “low” but people with concerns are advised to check the immunizati­on records of themselves and family members.

Mumps symptoms include: swelling and pain in salivary glands in the sides of cheeks and jaw; fever; headache; muscle aches and pains; fatigue; and loss of appetite. Symptoms can last up to 10 days.

Complicati­ons can include encephalit­is, an infection in the brain; meningitis, an infection in the lining of the brain; painful swelling of the testicles or the ovaries; pancreatit­is; and hearing loss. Pregnant women who become infected during the first three months of pregnancy are at risk of miscarriag­e. People who think they have mumps should tell their doctor before arriving at a clinic.

Most Torontonia­ns born between 1970 and 1992 have had either one or zero mumps vaccinatio­ns.

That makes them more susceptibl­e to infection than those born later, most of whom have had two vaccinatio­ns — at about12 months of age and then again between the ages 4 and 6.

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