The medical officer of health for Southern Health says the vaccine for mumps is about 90% effective.
Dr. Routledge says few things in life are 100% and 90% is a dramatic reduction in the number of cases seen each year with outbreaks being less common and less severe than in previous decades.
"We see this with many types of infectious agents like viruses, you'll have a short lull and then some virus will be reintroduced and people who didn't respond to the vaccine, for whatever reason, will develop cases."
He adds, though research has not confirmed, it would appear those who land in the 10% of the population who are not immune to the virus, may have a less severe case, inferring they received some kind of protection from the vaccination.
The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is given to children at 12-months old and a booster during their preschool years. Dr. Routledge says in the early 90's the booster started including mumps but previously did not because the booster was directed towards measles prevention.
"We introduced all of these - measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, we didn't even vaccinate at all until sort of around the 60's and 70's," he explains. "Then we started getting evidence more predominately for measles because measles is the more severe virus of the two, that's really why the second dose was introduced, was to boost that effectiveness. So, that second dose was added to get that extra little number of cases and extra little protection."
Dr. Routledge says the outbreak of mumps in the Southern Health region were seen mainly in the fall of 2016 through to spring 2017. In previous SteinbachOnline articles, it was noted there were 61 confirmed cases in the Southern Health region between September 1 and December 8, 2016, as well as another 45 between December 2016 and March 2017. He notes the outbreak has appeared to recede and normal levels of mump cases are being reported.
He says there is no treatment for mumps, it's a virus which needs to work its course. Dr. Routledge notes the reason why it's important to have it diagnosed is to know what you're dealing with but also to take extra precautions to not transmit it to others and in the rare occurrence it becomes severe or there are complications.
"Mumps is a virus and like most viruses, it starts out and people just have this low grade not feeling very well. Then the major symptom that distinguishes mumps is that sort of classic picture people may think about, those swollen cheeks."
He says our population has good immunity levels and, depending on how you group categories together, between 70 and 90% of people are receiving their necessary vaccinations.
Dr. Routledge adds vaccines which are recommended to continue on a scheduled basis in adulthood are the yearly flu shot, a tetanus booster every ten years, and a pertussis or whooping cough booster for certain individuals.
He says any further questions about vaccines could be directed towards a family physician.