An alarming spike in the number of mumps cases in Toronto has caused the city's public health agency to label it as an outbreak, with the investigation now being directed toward the city's downtown and west-end bars.
According to a news release put out by Toronto Public Health (TPH) Wednesday, the sudden increase in mumps cases—now 17, the Toronto Star reports—may be somehow linked to circulation of the virus inside the city's busy bars.
While the report doesn't indicate exactly what bars the cases are stemming from, it does say the patients are between 18 and 35 years old, and that the locations span from downtown to the west end. The report also notes, however, that it is very unlikely a location is causing the outbreak—rather, the close proximity of people and the sharing of drinks/eating utensils is leading to transmission of the virus between people.
"The mumps virus is found in saliva and respiratory droplets. It is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and coming into contact with a person's saliva by sharing drinks or utensils, food or water bottles, or by kissing," the release reads, likely to the dismay of every unvaccinated 20-something-year-old in Toronto.
"A major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team or living in a dormitory with a person who has the mumps."
For anyone not familiar with what's hip in TDot, the west-end—particularly Queen St. and King St. West, from Spadina Avenue to Dufferin St.—includes the high end clubs and cocktail lounges closer to downtown as well as the craft breweries and hipster bars of the neighbourhoods further west, the latter of which have undergone extreme gentrification over the last two decades.
Mumps itself, while not inherently fatal, can lead to serious complications if not treated. Symptoms can including swelling of the brain, swelling of the testicles/ovaries, and possible hearing loss. Pregnant women are especially at risk if infected, as the virus has a moderate to high chance of causing a miscarriage.
While the report says there is not an overt concern—considering that at least 90 percent of Toronto's school-attending population born past 1970 have full immunization—TPH has advised people to check their immunization records anyway, and visit their doctor immediately if concerned about possible symptoms.
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