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Mumps

What causes mumps and how is it spread?
Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands spread through contact with infected saliva. Mumps spreads from person to person through the air. It can spread by sharing drinking glasses, kissing, sneezing and coughing.

How long does it take to show signs of mumps after being exposed?
Signs and symptoms usually show up in about 14-18 days, but can range from 14-25 days. Up to 20% of persons with mumps have no symptoms of the disease, and another 40%-50% have only respiratory symptoms, like mild congestion.

What are the symptoms of mumps?
People with the mumps usually feel sick with symptoms, such as headache, loss of appetite, and low-grade fever. The most well-known sign of mumps is a swelling of the salivary glands below the ear. This occurs only in 30%-40% of individuals infected with mumps. Infection with mumps virus may present with associated severe abdominal or pelvic pain.

Is there a treatment for mumps?
There is no "cure" for mumps, only supportive treatment (bed rest, fluids, and fever reduction).

How do I know if I/my child/my family member have mumps?
Mumps is diagnosed by a combination of symptoms and physical signs and laboratory confirmation of the virus.

How long is a person with mumps contagious?
The virus may be in your saliva from 7 days before and up to 9 days after the start of swelling. People who are infected with the mumps virus but have mild illness or no symptoms can still pass the virus to others.

What is my best protection so I don’t get the mumps?
Persons born before 1957 are more likely to have natural immunity from having had the disease, which was common when they were children. However, mumps cases can occur in adults if they don’t have immunity. Adults can be vaccinated against mumps to provide protection. Your child should have received the recommended two doses of Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine by the time they enter school. With an outbreak, a second dose may be recommended for health-care workers, schoolaged children, students in post-high school educational facilities, and others at high risk of exposure. When in doubt call your healthcare provider or call the Health Department.

What should I do if I think I have the mumps already? (these glands are pretty big!)
Contact your healthcare provider or seek a walk-in clinic to be evaluated and tested. The Health
Department does not offer this service. If at all possible, do not go to school or work or other
public settings where you may expose others to the disease.

How serious is mumps?
In children, mumps is usually a mild disease. Adults may have more serious disease with more complications.

What are possible complications from mumps?

  • Meningitis is common, but is usually not serious. Meningitis (with headache, stiff neck) occurs in up to 15% of people with mumps, but usually goes away without any permanent damage.
  • Up to 50% of males who have passed through puberty experience swelling of the testicles, as a complication of mumps. This may involve pain, swelling, nausea, vomiting, and fever, with tenderness of the area possibly lasting for weeks. Sterility is a rare complication, however.
  • An increase in spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) has been found among women who developed mumps during the first trimester of pregnancy; however, there is no evidence that mumps causes birth defects.
  • Deafness, in one or both ears, can occur in approximately one per 20,000 reported cases of mumps.

How common is mumps in the United States?
Due to good immunization coverage, mumps is now rare in the United States. Only 258 cases were reported in 2004. However, outbreaks occasionally occur. Mumps virus is still present in the United States and the world, and the number of cases would quickly begin to climb if we were to stop vaccinating against this disease.

Can you get mumps more than once?
No.