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Mumps may be spreading through NWT communities, CPHO warns

The Northwest Territories Chief Public Health Officer is advising residents of the possibility of the mumps virus circulating around the territory.

Mumps, often known as the kissing virus, can spread in a multitude of ways. The Office of the CPHO says coughing, sneezing, kissing, sharing glasses or utensils, and touching a surface that has the virus on it are all possible ways to get the mumps.

Mumps is typically diagnosed after one or more of the salivary glands are swollen. The swelling can be on either side of the face, but tends to be on both. The Office says that other possible symptoms of mumps include:

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Earache.
  • Tiredness.
  • Sore muscles.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Trouble talking, chewing, or swallowing.

Half the time, the virus appears as the flu through the initial stages. In children under 5, mumps can show up as a lung infection.

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The virus can take 16 – 18 after exposure before people begin to get sick, but it can range from 12 – 25 days. The virus is most contagious from 2 days before the swelling starts until 5 days after it goes away. Fever usually lasts 1-6 days but enlargement of the glands may go on for 10 days or longer. A few people may have little or no symptoms but can still spread the virus.

To help prevent the mumps, a vaccine is available. Make sure your vaccines are up to date. If you think you may have mumps, please let your healthcare provider know immediately. For the protection of others, do not show up at a healthcare facility. Contact the healthcare provider by phone. Until you know for sure, you should isolate yourself at home, and do not attend any public gatherings. Your healthcare provider will arrange for the appropriate testing, which includes a swab of the inside of your cheek, and a simple blood test.

For more information about the symptoms and complications of mumps, click here.

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