Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mumps outbreak infected 11 at city school

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EIGHT students and three adults at one Winnipeg school contracted mumps in an unusual outbreak this winter that resulted in more than 200 people being immunized.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is using the outbreak to draw attention to Immunization Awareness Week next week.

But the WRHA will not name the school, will not give the ages of the students involved or say whether the adults are teachers, and will not say if it is a public or private school.

There is no public health risk and identifying the school and its community could violate the privacy of health information of individuals, the WRHA said.

Several city school divisions said Thursday the outbreak did not occur in any of their schools.

The Manitoba Teachers' Society said the teachers' union would expect to be aware of outbreaks of illness in a school, which suggests the outbreak may have been in a private school.

"It's really important that people remember the importance of immunization," Dr. Michael Routledge, a public officer of health, said Thursday.

Routledge said immunizations are safe and effective, and Winnipeg has a good rate of immunization.

Nevertheless, 2010 data showed only 66 per cent of seven-year-olds in the city received every recommended immunization, though most of the rest were missing only one or two, Routledge said.

He said the WRHA became aware of the mumps outbreak in late December and tracked it for two months.

"We identified what ended up as 11 cases," he said.

He said mumps is a viral disease that is usually benign, causing the cheeks to swell. But it can cause sterility in males and in a small number of cases, can lead to encephalitis.

It is also contagious, he said.

Routledge said the cases were in one school and teachers were involved, though the health authority is not saying if the three adult cases were teachers.

"We worked with the parents associated with the school," he said.

One person who developed mumps had been in the process of receiving immunization, but there was under-immunization in that school population, he said. More than 200 people associated with the school were immunized after the outbreak.

The WRHA sent all physicians in the province a letter advising them to be on the alert for symptoms of mumps.

The Education Department referred all questions about the mumps outbreak to Manitoba Health, which cited the privacy of personal health information and deferred to the WRHA for comment.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Immunization info

HEALTH officials recommend some immunizations be given to babies and some to children once they're in school, with additional booster shots for teens and adults.

A full list of recommended immunizations can be found at http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/div/schedules.html

To see what Manitoba Health told the province's doctors in January about the outbreak, go to:

http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/protocol/mumps.pdf

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2012 B1

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