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New mumps cases prompt call for immunization

Young Whistlerites urged to take steps to avoid virus


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Vancouver Coastal Authority (VCH) has a message for young people: Get vaccinated against mumps.

Since February 80 people have sought treatment for the virus in a VCH facility. In the last month alone there have been 13 news cases of the mumps in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes Whistler and Squamish.

That's a sharp increase from years past. Between 2011 and 2015, VCH recorded an average of 32 cases a year.

"We've had an increased number (of cases) since February," said Dr. Reka Gustafson, a public health physician for VCH. "I wouldn't say it's an explosive outbreak. But the fact that there's an ongoing continued transmission is of concern."

Mumps, which can be spread through kissing, sharing drinks, or even coughing, is a viral illness that can spread quickly among populations that live in close proximity to each other.

Young people living side by side "can lead to outbreaks," said Gustafson, who is encouraging young people moving to Whistler to "proactively" make sure they have received proper vaccinations.

People born before 1970 need two vaccines to be properly protected, she explained, noting that many already have one.

Mumps can result in a host of symptoms, including swollen glands, headaches, and even swollen testicles and ovaries. There is no cure, and patients are forced to wait out the uncomfortable effects.