24.03.2016 14:26 Age: 4 yrs

Kimberley residents urged to be aware of mumps symptoms

Kimberley’s Population Health team is urging local people to be aware of the symptoms of mumps following a resurgence in cases of the infection in some towns in the region.

More than 300 cases have been notified to Kimberley Population Health since the outbreak began in March 2015, with the latest cases coming from Derby, Fitzroy Valley, Wyndham and Kununurra communities. The Kimberley outbreak spread to other areas of the State last year but seems to be petering out except in the Kimberley.

Senior Public Health Nurse Ashley Eastwood said mumps was usually a relatively uncommon illness due to high rates of vaccination. Work is occurring to determine the cause of this outbreak.

Similar outbreaks overseas have been attributed to several factors, including waning immunity in young adults who were vaccinated in childhood, lack of boosting of immunity due to significantly decreased circulation of wild-type virus, and diminished protection due to differences between the mumps vaccine strain and the wild-type strain circulating in this outbreak.

The ages of the people primarily affected range from eight to 35 years, with smaller numbers of people in other age groups affected.

Ms Eastwood said the symptoms of mumps included fever, headache, aching muscles, generally feeling unwell and swollen glands around the neck, ear and face.

“One in three people with mumps will only have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all but can still spread the illness to other members of the community without realising it,” Ms Eastwood said.

“Most people recover fairly quickly from mumps but it can cause serious complications, with about 10 per cent developing meningitis, and in rare cases, potentially fatal encephalitis.”

Although the Kimberley population is highly vaccinated, it is thought that immunity declines after five years making infection possible.

"People who have been vaccinated and who then get mumps are not as unwell as people who haven't been vaccinated," Ms Eastwood said.

“The best way to prevent mumps is to make sure you have had two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.

“If people are not fully vaccinated they are not only susceptible to mumps but also other diseases, such as measles.”

In specific areas we are offering contacts of cases, and other community members an additional vaccine to boost their immunity and to assist with controlling the spread of the disease.

"If you have mumps, please stay away from school, work and social gatherings. Tell people who you have been in contact with the week before you developed mumps and tell them to go to the doctor if they get symptoms," she said.

“Simple hygiene, such as covering your mouth with a tissue when sneezing and coughing, and careful hand washing afterwards also helps stop the spread of respiratory viruses like mumps. People should also avoid sharing eating utensils, cigarettes or kissing while unwell.”

If you have any symptoms or concerns visit your GP, community or town clinic.


Media Contact: Liz Rehfeldt, Ph: 6145 4166 or