By: Selma Taapopi
As of today, the mumps outbreak in the Oshana region has reached approximately 150 cases. This is according to the Oshana region chief medical officer Dr. Asumani Kibandwa, who stated that the illness is a viral infection which spreads rapidly. Kibandwa told News on One in a telephonic interview that the majority of those infected are children but it can also affect adults. Kibandwa stated that the cases were first reported in December last year but they were not many. He noted that last month, a total of 28 cases were reported at the Oshakati West Primary School in the Oshana region. According to KidsHealth, mumps is an infection caused by a virus that can be spread from person to person. The virus is known for puffy cheeks and tender swollen jaws. Kibandwa explained that once someone coughs or speaks, the virus goes through droplets which will be in the atmosphere and when someone breathes, they will also get the virus. “I’m talking about 150 cases because cases are coming in everyday, facilities are reporting. Mumps have been there, meaning(that) we have been recording one or two cases throughout the year. But from December, the cases were getting a bit more. Mumps is known as a non-notifiable disease that’s why we were not reporting anything. But in December we were requested by the national level to be reporting mumps because the cases were getting a bit high,” said Kibandwa, adding that they started reporting cases on a weekly basis from December. By the beginning of February, the number increased in some schools, he added. In addition, Kibandwa said mumps manifests itself through symptoms of swelling behind the jaw followed by a fever, loss of appetite and dehydration. He said precautionary measures include wearing of masks and washing of hands. Kibandwa urged members of the public to report suspected cases to their nearest health facilities. “You will notice a swelling behind the jaw. You might see one side is swollen while the other side is not, or you might see both sides are swollen. Once the swelling comes, the patient that has mumps will be showing fever and its 38 above, loss of appetite and they will be requesting to drink water now and then,” remarked Kibandwa. Kibandwa further stated that the Ministry of Health has enforced mitigating factors such as awareness raising in the communities and exploring the option of introducing the mumps vaccine.