Auckland is experiencing a mumps outbreak with 51 cases of the disease since January.
The outbreak is part of an increase in mumps cases throughout the country and mimics a worldwide increase.
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service said the the number of cases is two to three times above the norm for the past three years, with only four confirmed cases for the whole of last year.
More than half of the Auckland cases have occurred in children and teenagers aged from 10 to 19.
The health service is urging parents to check with their doctors and ensure their families’ measles mumps and rubella vaccinations are up to date.
“Vaccination is free and it will protect your child and the community”, Medical Officer of Health Dr Michael Hale said.
Hale said mumps could spread quickly among those who were not immune, particularly in schools.
“A single child with mumps at secondary school could cause an outbreak, because immunity in that age group is well below the national average.
“If parents do not organise vaccination quickly, their children’s learning could be disrupted.
“We are in the midst of an outbreak and already large numbers of students are scrambling to catch up on school work after falling ill with mumps for several weeks,” Hale said.
Most people recover from mumps, but it can have serious complications.
The disease can also cause inflammation of tissue surrounding the brain (meningitis), inflamed testicles or ovaries, and deafness.
The primary sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out – the term “mumps” is an old expression for lumps or bumps within the cheeks.
Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, weakness and fatigue, and pain while chewing or swallowing.
“The best way to avoid getting an infectious disease like mumps is to ensure you are fully immunised with the MMR vaccine,” Hale said.