South Africa reports mumps outbreak


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According to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the country has reported an outbreak of mumps.


Since February 2023, the NICD has received a number of inquiries regarding clusters or outbreaks of mumps in various counties. To confirm the existence of a mumps outbreak, public sector national laboratory test data for PCR and IgM positives for mumps during the period 2013–present were requested from the NICD Surveillance Data Repository and analyzed as a dedicated surveillance activity.

From epidemiological week 01 in 2013 (ending 01/05/2013) to week 12 2023 (ending 03/31/2023), 1322 mumps IgM-positive and 30 mumps PCR positives (11 (37%) in 2023) Determined from 20,813 combined tests. The annual percentage positive for mumps IgM previously peaked at 39% in 2019, however, the positive percentage for 2023, from available data, is 69%. Annual percentage positivity for mumps IgM tests by age group shows significant increases in percentage positivity in the 1-4 year age group (84% in 2023) and the 5-9 year age group (83% in 2023), followed by the 30-year age group -34 years old (67%) and the age group 10-14 years old (54%). The most recent data presented as an epidemiological curve shows unexpected and steady increases in IgM test positives from week 6 of 2023 with KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng accounting for the majority. An unexpected sudden increase in mumps IgM and PCR test positives constitutes, in the absence of other data, an outbreak.

To reduce transmission during an outbreak, in countries where the mumps vaccine is universally available, public health authorities may recommend an extra dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine for people who belong to groups at increased risk of contracting mumps. These groups are usually those who are likely to have close contact, such as sharing sports equipment or drinks, kissing, or living together, with someone who has mumps. Since the MMR vaccine as an intervention is not universally available in South Africa, it is best to seek advice from your local healthcare provider.

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Mumps is an acute viral infection caused by the rubeola virus, also known as the mumps virus. It is sometimes called “infectious parotitis,” because it causes painful swelling of the parotid gland and/or salivary glands. Mumps is generally a mild childhood illness, mostly affecting children between the ages of 5-9. However, young children and adults as well as adults can get mumps. People who have had mumps are usually protected for life from other mumps infections. However, a second mumps infection rarely occurs.

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