Hawke's Bay school suffers mumps outbreak

  • 12/09/2017
People infected may suffer swollen testicles and brain inflammation.
People infected may suffer swollen testicles and brain inflammation. Photo credit: Getty

Adults and parents with children at Waipukurau Primary School in Central Hawke's Bay are being warned to check their immunisation status following a confirmed case of mumps at the school.

"Mumps is a highly infectious viral infection, spread by breathing, sneezing and coughing. People with mumps may suffer swelling of testicles or ovaries, hearing loss, breathing difficulties and rarely, brain inflammation," says medical officer of health Dr Rachel Eyre.

"If you suspect you or your child is developing a fever or has swelling of glands around the cheeks or jaw, phone your own doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116)."

Mumps can affect babies, children or adults. A letter has gone to staff and parents at the school advising them that if they aren't immune there is a risk of passing the infection on to others even before developing symptoms.

If you were born after 1981 and have never had mumps or mumps/MMR immunisation (two documented doses is required to prove immunity), you need to see your family doctor.

Non-immune adults and children need to stay away from school, work or community gatherings until 26 days after last exposure.

"We know this may create difficulties for some families, but our priority must be to prevent further spread of the virus. We have been advised that the school will work with affected families to ensure pupils who need to stay home are supported in their learning," Dr Eyre says.

"Even if you get immunised immediately you may still develop mumps because immunisation may be too late to prevent the disease. However, it will protect against future infection and reduce the risk of complications.

"Fortunately in Hawke's Bay we have high rates of immunisation coverage, which should help prevent the spread of the disease in our region."