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.