Students at Ryerson University have been coming down with the mumps. According to the Eyeopener, a Ryerson student newspaper, three cases had been confirmed as of March 22, though patient confidentiality issues prevented further information from going public. However, it has been confirmed that it is likely the students were on campus when they became infected. Outbreaks of mumps and whooping cough in Canada this year are concerning to medical professionals because there are vaccines for these dangerous illnesses.
The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine has come under attack by anti-vaccine groups, citing fears that a chemical in the shot, as well as others, may cause autism spectrum disorder. Scientists are still not sure what causes ASD, though there is no medical evidence to suggest the correlation between ASD and vaccinations. A previous study that is still widely cited has since been discredited. However, parents in the groups are arguing that they should have the choice as to whether their child be vaccinated, regardless of the risks.
Medical professionals say the risks that may or may not exist with the vaccines, are far fewer than the dangers of contracting one of these dangerous illnesses.
Mumps, which is spread through saliva, presents itself as painful swelling in the neck and cheeks. Other symptoms may include: fever, headache, earache, fatigue, sore muscles, dry mouth, trouble talking, chewing or swallowing, and loss of appetite. The Public Health Agency of Canada says that while most people recover fully from mumps within seven to 10 days, there is no specific cure for the virus. Treatment will instead include pain management as well as instructions to drink fluids, eat healthy foods and get rest.
PHAC says that in some rare cases the virus can cause serious complications including deafness, meningitis or infections of the testicles, ovaries or breasts. In very rare cases, these infections can cause infertility. If the virus is contracted during the first three months of pregnancy, it can lead to miscarriage.
Brock students who were not vaccinated and did not already have the virus as children may be at risk now. Children are typically administered the vaccine between the ages of 12 and 15 months and again at 18 months. The PHAC says that the vaccines are safe and effective and are free for all Canadians. If you have not been vaccinated against mumps in the past, speak to your doctor about getting vaccinated now.
While no cases of mumps have yet been reported at Brock University, students should see their doctor if they exhibit symptoms. The PHAC recommends that those infected should stay out of contact with other people for at least five days after swelling begins to prevent spreading the virus.