Mumps used to be common, but these days, cases are rare. In the early 1950s, approximately 34,000 Canadians would come down with mumps each year. By the late 1990s, the number of annual cases had fallen by 99 per cent to fewer than 400.
The number of cases dropped to an average of 87 between 2000 and 2004.
Widespread vaccination programs have all but eliminated what once was a common childhood disease.
But in recent months, concern about mumps has resurfaced as an outbreak that began in Atlantic Canada gained momentum, spreading to Toronto and Alberta.
Well over 300 cases surfaced in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. in May alone. Nova Scotia has been hit hardest since the outbreak surfaced there in February. The province had reported 302 cases by May 25 – mostly among university students. More than 100 hospital workers in the province were forced to take paid leave after testing positive for exposure to mumps.
Mumps is an infection of the salivary glands, caused by the mumps virus. It usually affects children between the ages of two and 12, but can also affect other age groups, though infection among those over the age of 40 is rare.
The disease is contagious, spread though direct contact with respiratory droplets, saliva or contact with any contaminated surface.
The disease may involve fever and swelling of the salivary glands in the neck just below the jaw line.
The sudden increase in mumps is probably due to parents not giving their children the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) shots. There has been so much talk about vaccinations being linked to Autism some parents are opting out of important shots.