There have been a few confirmed cases of mumps at a Medicine Hat school and it has spread to Calgary.
Mumps most commonly affects children and is a very contagious viral infection located in the salivary glands. The infection results in a swelling of these glands, which causes the patient to develop inflated cheeks, sometimes accompanied by pain.
"We have not heard, that I know, of any cases in our schools," said Bevan Daverne, superintendent of the Golden Hills School Division. "However, it is certainly possible that in one of our schools we have staff that might be aware that students are home with the mumps these days. There is no obligation for parents to report."
Those infected can go seven days without experiencing any symptoms of the infection, which makes it hard to contain an outbreak. Anyone that has developed symptoms is strongly encouraged to stay home.
"We follow Alberta Health Services recommendations and in the case of mumps they are recommending that students are to stay home at least 5 days after swelling to prevent the spread of the infection," explained Daverne.
Daverne advises that students do not share food or drink as mumps are spread through exchanging saliva.
"If I'm not mistaken I think that most children today are immunized against mumps," added Daverne. "Albera Health Services certainly encourages parents to get their kids vaccinated. It can be a more serious illness if you catch it later in life from what I understand."
A vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella is normally given between the age of 12 and 24 months. This is followed with another dose when the child approaches an age between 4 and 6.
Those who only had one of the doses were among many affected in a mumps outbreak in 2007 and 2008. The outbreak mainly affected the younger population still attending school.
For more information on how to prevent mumps follow this link.