Toronto Public Health (TPH) is investigating a mumps outbreak involving people who have gone to bars in the western part of the downtown core.
Officials said there have been 14 lab-confirmed cases involving people 18 to 35 years of age. But there’s still a number of people “under investigation,” and there will be more cases confirmed.
Health officials would not release a list of specific bars frequented by those infected, but said they were west of Yonge Street.
“There are many, many bars involved and it seems to be just related to that area,” said Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of Health at TPH.
“It’s not the bars themselves where mumps are hanging out. It’s the individuals who attend the bars that have mumps and seem to be spreading it at the bars.”
Dubey said a major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment.
The mumps virus is found in saliva and sweat and is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing and coming into contact with a person’s saliva by sharing drinks or utensils or by kissing.
“When you’re in crowded conditions and you’re sharing things or coughing and sneezing, that may be a good source for mumps to spread,” Dubey said.
Health officials said the risk to the general public is low, but it’s important that the public knows mumps is circulating in Toronto.
“Mumps makes a comeback here and there in North America,” Dubey explained. “In the U.S. right now there are 27 states that have over 500 cases.
“In a five-year average, Toronto would expect to see four cases in a year. So, our numbers are quite elevated.”
Symptoms can last up to 10 days and include swelling and pain in one or more salivary glands, fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, fatigue and loss of appetite.
Dubey is encouraging people in the 18 to 35 age group to check and see if they have had two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
“The good thing is that we have a vaccine for mumps,” she said. “So, if we can get some of our vaccination rates up, then we know that we can stop the spread of this infection.”