Mumps is a contagious viral illness that causes fever and swelling of the salivary glands.
The symptoms usually start 16 to 18 days after a person has been exposed to the mumps virus, but can start anywhere from 12 to 25 days after exposure. Early symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, often followed by onset of parotitis (swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears, on one or both sides). Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms.
Severe complications from mumps are rare. Complications can include painful, swollen testicles in males who have reached puberty and painful, swollen breasts in women. Aseptic meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord) can occur. Mumps can sometimes lead to inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis), miscarriage in early pregnancy, and very rarely to deafness or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
Laboratory testing is needed to confirm mumps. This testing is arranged by your medical provider. It is helpful to know if you have been near someone with mumps or if you have traveled to an area where a mumps outbreak is occurring.
Mumps is a viral infection that can be spread through close person-to-person contact such as coughing, sneezing or sharing drinking glasses. A person infected with mumps can spread the virus to a non-infected person from about three days before symptoms appear to five days after swelling of the salivary glands.
Not everyone who is exposed to someone with mumps will get sick. Exposed people who have been vaccinated with two doses of mumps vaccine are very unlikely to get mumps. If a person hasn’t been vaccinated or had mumps disease, it is possible they could get sick.
The best way to be protected from mumps is to be vaccinated. Two doses of MMR vaccine (a mumps-containing vaccine) are recommended. Children should receive two doses of MMR: when they are 12-15 months old and at 4 to 6 years of age. It is usually required before kindergarten entry. The efficacy of two doses of mumps vaccine is 88% (range 66%-95%). For people who have had only one dose of mumps vaccine, an estimated 78% (range 49%-92%) are protected.
There is no specific treatment for mumps. Supportive care should be given. If you have symptoms of mumps, call your healthcare provider right away. If someone becomes very ill, they should seek medical attention. Mention your concern about mumps before going in to the doctor’s office.