06/03/2016 17:38 EDT | Updated 06/04/2017 01:12 EDT

Mumps outbreak worsens in Metro Vancouver

Vancouver Coastal Health says 41 people in the region (including Squamish, Whistler, and North Vancouver) have mumps, up from the 11 reported cases in Whistler earlier this month.

Vancouver Coastal Health's Dr. Althea Hayden says this outbreak is probably because those infected fall into an age category that likely only had one dose of mumps vaccine instead of two, leaving them unprotected.

"The average age of patients in this mumps outbreak is 33," she said in a statement. "We are encouraging everyone between the ages of 22 and 46 to get a second dose of the vaccine so that they are fully protected."

The mumps vaccine is usually given as MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) and is available for free at most pharmacists, family doctors and walk-in clinics.

Symptoms of mumps

Symptoms of mumps include fever, sore throat or cough, swelling of the salivary glands — under the jaw and ears — resulting in 'chipmunk cheeks'. However, Vancouver Coastal Health says that not everyone infected with mumps will necessarily have this kind of swelling.

Mumps can easily be spread by coughing, sneezing, and sharing cups and utensils. The health authority recommends if you think you have mumps, stay home from work and social events and contact your doctor before going into the clinic to avoid spreading the illness.