Mumps is a contagious disease caused by the paramyxovirus. The time between contracting the virus and the appearance of symptoms is approximately 16 to 18 days. Mumps is hallmarked by the visible symptoms of puffy checks and an uncomfortable, swollen jaw. If vaccinated, it is still possible to contract the illness however, symptoms may be less severe.
The characteristic puffy cheeks and swollen jaw are a result of swollen salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides. This swelling is often called parotitis.
Prior to swelling in the face, other symptoms may appear. These symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
While these symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after contracting the virus, this period can range from 12-25 days. Some individuals that contract the virus will only have mild symptoms similar to a cold, or no symptoms at all.
Serious complications, especially in adults, can include:
- Inflammation of the testicles (orchitis); this may lead to a decrease in testicular size (testicular atrophy)
- Inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breast tissue (mastitis)
- Inflammation in the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- Inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
Inflammation of the testicles could lead to temporary sterility or decreased fertility in men, but no studies have assessed if it results in permanent infertility.
Transmission of Mumps
Mumps is transmitted through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, nose, or throat. An infected person can spread the virus through:
- Coughing, sneezing, or talking
- Sharing items with saliva on them, such as water bottles or cups
- Participating in close-contact activities such as playing sports, dancing, or kissing
Transmission of mumps can begin a few days before a person’s salivary glands begin to swell up to five days after swelling begins. A person infected with mumps should limit their contact with others during this time. Stay home from school, work, and social events.
Treatment & Vaccination Against Mumps
There is no treatment for mumps so, the best way to protect you and your child against mumps is vaccination.
Mumps is usually given as a combination vaccine referred to as the MMR vaccine. This vaccination protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Current recommendations suggest children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine:
- First dose between 12 and 15 months of age, and
- Second dose between 4 and 6 years of age.
The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. Most children don’t have any side effects from the vaccine. The side effects that do occur are usually very mild, such as a fever or rash. An individual with two doses of the MMR vaccine has a reduction in risk of 88%, while a person with only one dose will see a 78% reduction in risk.
Fort Bend County Health & Human Services offers vaccinations through our Vaccines For Children program. If your child has not received their mumps vaccine, please consider contacting your healthcare provider or one of our vaccination clinics to get up-to-date.
In many countries, mumps remains a common disease. Anyone not protected against mumps is at risk of contracting the virus when traveling internationally.
Before traveling internationally, consider protecting yourself and your family against mumps.
- Children 12 months of age or older should have two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
- Teenagers and adults without evidence of immunity (protection) to mumps* should have two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
If you have two doses of MMR vaccine, it is not necessary to get an additional dose when you travel internationally, even if the country to which you are traveling is experiencing a mumps outbreak.
*Acceptable presumptive evidence of immunity to mumps for international travelers includes: documented 2 doses of live mumps virus vaccine, laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of disease, or birth before 1957.
If You are Experiencing Symptoms
If you are experiencing symptoms of mumps, even mild symptoms, please isolate yourself from others and contact your healthcare provider immediately.
For more information on Mumps, please visit the CDC site here: https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html