With nerves heightened over recent news of preventable diseases cropping up in the area, there is a renewed focus on immunizations. Dr. Charles Gardner, the Simcoe-Muskoka Medical Officer of Health has penned an open letter, saying these immunizations are key in preventing childhood diseases.
In his letter, Dr. Gardner says the vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella is the most effective way of halting the spread of these diseases. There were five confirmed cases of the Mumps in Collingwood earlier this month, while reports of measles in Orillia have not been confirmed by lab testing.
Dr. Gardner’s letter in full:
“Immunization against childhood diseases has been so successful that many people today have never experienced or seen cases of the diseases that immunization protects against. But that doesn’t mean that they are gone – many of these diseases still exist throughout the world, including Canada, and they easily spread when people are not immunized. We’ve seen this recently with a cluster of local mumps cases.
Maintaining high measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination coverage remains the most effective way to prevent the spread of these childhood diseases. Routinely given in combination with measles and rubella soon after a child’s first birthday, and again at four to six years of age, the MMR vaccine offers safe and effective protection against mumps.
The mumps virus is easily spread through coughing and sneezing, through infected saliva when water bottles, food or cigarettes are shared, or through kissing. The virus can also survive on surfaces.
Symptoms of mumps can start about 12-25 days after being in close contact with someone with mumps. They can include headache, fever, muscle pain, loss of appetite, swelling of the salivary glands around jaw and cheeks and tender testicles in men. In rare instances, mumps can lead to more serious complications.
While handwashing and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze can help reduce the spread, being immunized against the mumps is the only way to actually prevent it.
Those who have not been vaccinated are most at risk of getting mumps, however those born between 1970 and 1992 may only have received one dose of the MMR vaccine. They should make sure that they have had the second dose for full coverage.
A person with the mumps virus can spread the virus from seven days before symptoms appear to about nine days after the symptoms appear. People with mumps should stay home and away from other people until five days after swelling starts, as this is when mumps is the most contagious. If you think you may have the mumps, see your health care provider.
To ensure your family’s immunizations are up to date, see your health care provider. Vaccinations are also available by appointment at regular clinics held at health unit offices throughout Simcoe and Muskoka.
For more information about the mumps and immunization, call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or visit www.simcoemuskokahealth.org.”