We assessed the epidemiological characteristics of a mumps virus epidemic (genotype D) that occurred in the Netherlands between August 2007 and May 2009 and its association with a subsequent mumps outbreak in Canada. In the Netherlands, five data sources were used: notifications (only mandatory since the end of 2008) (56 cases), laboratory confirmation data (177 cases), a sentinel general practitioner (GP) database (275 cases), hospitalisation data (29 cases) and weekly virological reports (96 cases). The median age of cases in the notification, laboratory and GP databases ranged from 13 to 15 years. The proportion of cases that were unvaccinated ranged from 65% to 85% in the notification, laboratory and GP databases. Having orthodox Protestant beliefs was the main reason for not being vaccinated. In Canada, a mumps virus strain indistinguishable from the Dutch epidemic strain was detected between February and October 2008 in an orthodox Protestant community with historical and family links to the affected community in the Netherlands, suggesting that spread to Canada had occurred. Prevention and control of vaccine-preventable diseases among population subgroups with low vaccination coverage remains a priority.
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