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Mumps

What is mumps?

An infection caused by the mumps virus.

Who can get mumps?

Anyone who isn’t immune, either from a previous infection or from vaccination. In the past, mumps was common among infants, children and young adults; now, most people in the U.S. are routinely vaccinated. Of those who do get mumps, up to half have very mild, or no symptoms, and don’t know they were infected.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are:
• fever
• headache
• muscle aches
• tiredness; and
• loss of appetite.
These are followed by swollen, tender salivary glands under the ears, on one or both sides.

When do symptoms appear?

Typically 16-18 days after infection, but this can range from 12-25 days.

Are there complications?

Severe complications are rare. However, mumps can cause:
• inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord;
• inflammation of the testicles;
• inflammation of the ovaries and/or breasts;
• miscarriage, particularly in early pregnancy; and
• deafness, usually permanent.

How is mumps spread?

By mucus or droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person, usually when a person coughs or sneezes. Surfaces can also spread the virus, if someone who’s sick touches them without washing their hands, and someone else touches the same surface and then rubs their eyes, mouth, nose, etc.

How long is someone contagious?

From three days before the start of symptoms until nine days after onset.

How is mumps treated?

There’s no specific treatment. Supportive care should be given as needed. If someone becomes very ill, they should seek medical attention.

How do I protect myself?

• Mumps vaccine (usually MMR) is the best way to prevent mumps.
• Wash your hands well and often with soap.
• Don’t share eating utensils.
• Regularly clean surfaces with soap and water or cleaning wipes.

How can the spread of mumps be stopped?

Anyone with mumps shouldn’t go back to school or work for nine days after symptoms begin. People who come in contact with a mumps case should have their immunization status evaluated by their health care provider. Anyone who hasn’t received mumps-containing vaccine (preferably MMR) should be vaccinated.

How can I learn more?

Talk with your health care provider about your specific concerns.
More information is available on the from the Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov, or from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, www.mass.gov/dph.

Or, call UHS' Public Health office, (413) 577-5193.