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July 31, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Mumps Outbreak

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) reported an outbreak of the mumps virus in Auckland on July 3, following a significant increase in the number of cases being investigated. 184 cases have been reported this year, as of July 25.

ARPHS stated that there were five new cases in Auckland being investigated every day, a huge increase from less than 20 cases reported in Auckland during 2016.

Julia Peters, Clinical Director of ARPHS, told Salient that the most probable reason for the huge increase in cases was from “people who have caught mumps overseas and come back to New Zealand with it,” with cases confirmed as having come from Fiji, Tonga, Japan, and Tuvalu.

The increase has also impacted the Waikato and Wellington, with public health officials from both regions releasing information about a significant increase since September 2016.

Lucy Kingsbeer from the Hutt Valley District Health Board told Salient that public health officials in the Wellington region were “watching the situation in Auckland and Waikato carefully and following up any suspected cases of mumps promptly.”

Mumps is a viral illness that is spread by direct contact with infected saliva, producing symptoms such as fever, headache, swollen glands, neck pain, and vomiting, with 15% of cases resulting in viral meningitis.

Those who are not vaccinated against the mumps disease are most at risk, with public health officials nationally recommending that the best prevention method is through immunisation at 15 months and four years of age with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR).

New Zealand has had historically low rates of child immunisation. The National Childhood Immunisation Coverage Survey, conducted in 2005, showed that only 77 per cent of children were fully immunised at the age of two years old. In 2009, the Unicef State of the World’s Children report showed New Zealand ranked 33 out of 35 developed nations for measles vaccinations.

With the current outbreak, Peters has stated that “the best way of bringing this outbreak under control is for everybody to ensure that they have two doses of the vaccine, which is free for all New Zealand citizens and residents.”

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