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Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

Deputy digital news editor

NICD confirms mumps outbreak in South Africa

There have been unexpected, steady increases mumps cases in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is warning of a mumps outbreak in the country.

Mumps is an acute viral infection caused by the rubulavirus, also known as the mumps virus. It is sometimes called infectious parotitis, as and is marked by the painful swelling of the parotid, the largest of the three major salivary glands.

Mumps graph one - Source NICD
From January to the end of March, 1322 mumps cases and 30 mumps PCR positives were identified from 20813 combined tests.

Recent testing for mumps using the immunoglobulin test, which measures the level of antibodies in the blood, showed an alarming spike in the annual percent-positivity.

Positive test results from children aged one to four years old showed an 84% rise this year and 83% in the
five to nine year old age groups, followed by 67% in the 30 to 34 year old category and 54% in the 10 to 14 year old age category.

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Mumps graph two (2)
Annual percent-positivity for mumps IgM tests by age category (in years) illustrated from national public sector laboratory data from the NICD surveillance data.

More recent data shows unexpected, steady increases in  immunoglobulin (IgM) test positives from week 6 of 2023, with KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng accounting for the majority.

“The unexpected, sudden increase in mumps IgM and PCR test positives, in the absence of other data, constitutes an outbreak,” said the NICD in a statement.

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Additional dose of mumps vaccine

The NICD is recommending an additional dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for people who belong to groups at increased risk for getting mumps as a means of limiting the transmission rate.

The transmission rates are likely to occur between people that have close contact, such as sharing sports equipment or drinks, kissing, or living together with a person who has mumps.

“As the MMR vaccine as an intervention is not universally available in South Africa, it is best to seek the advice of your local healthcare provider,” advised the NICD.

Mumps is generally a mild childhood disease, mostly affecting children between five and nine years of age.

But younger and older children and adults can become infected. People who had mumps in the past are usually protected for life against another infection. However, second occurrences of mumps rarely occur.

For more information on mumps, visit the NICD website.

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