Mumps - The Facts
What are mumps?
Did you know that mumps is now considered mainly a childhood disease. But it used to be known as a disease afflicting armies. Mumps was one of the leading causes of hospitalization during World War I.
Before vaccines, mumps was a common childhood disease. The most obvious sign of mumps is swelling of the cheeks and jaw, which is caused by inflammation in the salivary glands. Children with mumps usually also get a fever and headache. Generally, mumps is a mild disease, but it does have its serious side:
Children get mumps through contact with others who are already infected with the mumps virus. The virus is spread through the air by coughing, sneezing, or simply talking.
Children start to show signs of mumps 2 to 3 weeks after they are exposed. They are contagious from about 12 to 24 days after exposure.
The mumps vaccine we use today was licensed in 1967, and is a live, attenuated (weakened) vaccine. The number of reported cases has dropped from over 150,000 in 1968 to only 666 in 1998.