Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection with fever and swelling of the parotid glands. Once a common childhood illness, it is now rarely seen in the United States. Widespread use of the mumps vaccine provides lifelong immunity.
The virus that causes mumps is in the paramyxovirus family of viruses, which also includes measles. This virus is usually spread through contact with an infected person's saliva. The mumps virus is highly contagious, and spreads easily among people in close contact.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. It is unlikely to contract mumps if properly immunized in childhood.
- Exposure of unvaccinated individuals to others infected with mumps
- Persons born after 1956 that have never had mumps or were not vaccinated after their first birthday
- Age: between 10 and 19
- Season: winter and spring
- People who have a weakened immune system, even if previously vaccinated
About one-third of cases have no symptoms at all. Symptoms generally occur 2-3 weeks following exposure to the virus.
Mumps may cause some or all of the following Symptoms:
- Painful swelling of the parotid glands (under the cheeks and jaw)
- Sore throat
- Stiff neck
- Nausea and vomiting
Occasionally, other areas may also be affected, such as:
- Swelling and pain under the tongue, jaw, or front of the chest
- In males: painful inflammation of the testicles
- In females: inflammation of the ovaries, which results in pain or tenderness in the abdomen
Diagnosis of mumps is determined by symptoms, personal medical history, and physical exam. Testing is rarely required although in certain situations it may be recommended.
There are no medications or specific treatment for mumps. Mumps is caused by a virus, and therefore cannot be treated with antibiotics. Mumps should NOT be treated with aspirin.
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving a child aspirin.
In general, mumps will last about 10-12 days. The following are general comfort measures:
- Apply hot or cold compresses to swollen areas.
- Gargle with warm salt water to soothe sore throat.
- Treat high fever with non-aspirin medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Drink plenty of liquids, but avoid tart or acidic drinks, such as orange juice and lemonade.
- Eat a soft, bland diet.
In otherwise healthy, well-nourished children, complications from mumps are rare. These may include deafness (which may not be permanent) or swelling or infection of the brain, pancreas, heart or other organs. Up to 20% of adolescent boys and men develop testicular inflammation; fertility is impaired in 13%, but sterility is rare.
Mumps can be prevented by vaccine. The vaccine is usually given as part of the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine series. The MMR series is given to children beginning at 12-15 months, and again at 4-6 years old or 11-12 years old.
Check with your doctor or healthcare provider to learn about the exceptions and special circumstances regarding the MMR vaccine. In general, people who should not receive mumps vaccinations include:
- Those who have had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or vaccine components (such as gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin)
- Women who are pregnant (Women receiving the mumps vaccination should avoid pregnancy for three months after receiving the vaccination)
- People with a weakened immune system
- People with a high fever or severe upper respiratory tract infection (They should delay immunization until these symptoms have resolved)
Any unvaccinated person who has not had mumps should avoid contact with an infected person until all symptoms have subsided.