What is Mumps?

Mumps is a contagious illness caused by the Mumps virus.  It causes swollen glands, especially in the face and neck.  Mumps is no longer very common in the United States, but cases do still occur since Mumps remains a common disease in many other parts of the world.

Who can get Mumps?

Anyone born after 1957 (and has therefore not been exposed to the virus) and who has not received a Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine is at risk of being infected with Mumps. 

What are the symptoms of Mumps?

  • Painfully swollen glands on the face and neck
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite

Some people with Mumps may have mild or no symptoms.

How long after exposure do symptoms first begin?

Symptoms usually begin 16-18 days after infection.

How is Mumps spread?

Mumps is easily spread by saliva or mucus from the nose, throat and mouth. A person with mumps can spread the virus by:

  • Talking, coughing and sneezing
  • Sharing cups and utensils
  • Touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others

How long is a person contagious?

Persons with Mumps are usually considered most infectious before swelling appears and up to 5 days after swelling begins.

Are there complications?

Mumps can cause complications.  These may include:

  • Swelling of the testicles in males who have reached puberty.
  • Swollen ovaries and breasts in females that have reached puberty.
  • Swelling of the brain and of the tissue around the brain and spinal cord.
  • Hearing loss.

Is there a treatment for Mumps?

There is no treatment for Mumps.  Recommendations are to rest, drink liquids and manage fever.  Mumps must be reported to the local health department.  To prevent spreading the disease to others, isolate the patient until at least 5 days after the onset of symptoms.

How can Mumps be prevented?

Mumps can be prevented with the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine.

  • 2 doses of the MMR vaccine are needed.
  • All healthy children should receive the first MMR vaccine at 12-15 months of age.
  • A second MMR vaccine is usually given at 4-6 years of age; however, it can be given 28 days after the first dose.
  • Pregnant women should not get the MMR vaccine.  Women should avoid pregnancy for 4 weeks after receiving the MMR vaccine.