Mumps

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Mumps facts

  • Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection with an incubation period of 14-18 days from exposure to onset of symptoms. The duration of the disease is approximately 10 days.
  • The initial symptoms of mumps infection are nonspecific (low-grade fever, malaise, headache, muscle aches, and loss of appetite). The classic finding of parotid gland tenderness and swelling generally develops the third day of illness. The diagnosis is generally made without the need for laboratory tests.
  • Serious complications of mumps include meningitis, encephalitis, deafness, and orchitis.
  • The MMR vaccine provides 80% effective immunity against mumps following a two-dosage schedule (12-15 months with booster at 4-6 years of age).
  • No specific therapy exists for mumps. Warm or cold packs for the parotid gland tenderness and swelling is helpful. Pain relievers (acetaminophen [Tylenol] and ibuprofen [Advil]) are also helpful.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a viral infection transmitted by and affecting only humans. While the salivary glands (especially the parotid gland) are well known to be involved during a mumps infection, many other organ systems may also experience effects of the virus infection. There is no cure for mumps, but the illness is of short duration (seven to 10 days) and resolves spontaneously. Prior to the introduction of mumps vaccination, the highest rate of new cases of mumps was reported in the late winter to early spring.

What is the history of mumps?

Medical historians believe that documentation of a clinical illness consistent with mumps dates back to Greco-Roman times. The first effective vaccine against mumps was introduced in 1948 and used from 1950-1978. Unfortunately, this vaccine strain had limited long-term immune memory effectiveness. The current strain used in the United States and worldwide provides over 80% long-term immunity. The current childhood mumps immunization schedule recommends vaccination at 1 and 4 years of age. The mumps vaccine is commonly administered as part of a combination vaccine (MMR) also providing protection against measles and rubella (German measles).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/11/2014

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Mumps Virus Symptoms and Signs

Many people do not develop symptoms when they become infected with the mumps virus, so they may never know they had the infection. Others develop symptoms such as fever, swollen and tender parotid glands (the salivary glands located beneath the ears), and headache.

Other possible symptoms can include fatigue, loss of appetite, and muscle aches.