- What is mumps?
- Who can get mumps?
- What are the symptoms of mumps?
- Are there complications of mumps?
- How soon do symptoms appear?
- How is mumps spread?
- How long is an infected person able to spread the disease?
- How long should a person with mumps be isolated?
- What is the treatment for mumps?
- How do I protect myself (my kids/my family)?
- Is there a vaccine to prevent mumps?
- Is the vaccine effective/does it work?
- Where can I get the vaccine?
- What should I do if I don't know if I've been vaccinated?
- If I had mumps as a child, can I get it again/should I get vaccinated?
- If I was exposed to someone with mumps, what should I do?
What is mumps?
It is an infection caused by the mumps virus.
Who can get mumps?
Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps. Before the routine vaccination program was introduced in the United States, mumps was a common illness in infants, children and young adults. Because most people have now been vaccinated, mumps is now a rare disease in the United States. Of those people who do get mumps, up to half have very mild, or no symptoms, and therefore do not know they were infected with mumps.
What are the symptoms of mumps?
Are there complications of mumps?
Other rare complications include:
- Inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis)
- Inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breasts (mastitis) in females who have reached puberty
- Spontaneous abortion particularly in early pregnancy (miscarriage)
- Deafness, usually permanent
Quick GuideSymptoms of Mono: Infectious Mononucleosis Treatment
How soon do symptoms appear?
Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 after infection.
How is mumps spread?
Mumps is spread by mucus or droplets from the nose or throat of an infected person, usually when a person coughs or sneezes. Surfaces of items (e.g. toys) can also spread the virus if someone who is sick touches them without washing their hands, and someone else then touches the same surface and then rubs their eyes, mouth, nose etc. (this is called fomite transmission).
How long is an infected person able to spread the disease?
Mumps virus has been found in respiratory secretions 7 days before until 8 days after onset of parotitis. The highest isolation rates (~90%) occur closest to parotitis onset and decline rapidly thereafter. Most mumps transmission likely occurs before parotitis onset and within the subsequent 5 days. Transmission may also occur from persons who are not isolated including during the prodromal phase and from subclinical infections. Therefore, CDC now recommends a 5-day period after parotitis onset for isolation of mumps case-patients in community and healthcare settings and for use of standard and droplet precautions.
How long should a person with mumps be isolated?CDC recommends isolation of mumps patients for 5 days after onset of parotitis.
What is the treatment for mumps?
There is no specific treatment. Supportive care should be given as needed. If someone becomes very ill, they should seek medical attention. If someone seeks medical attention, they should call their doctor in advance so that they don't have to sit in the waiting room for a long time and possibly infect other patients.
How do I protect myself (my kids/my family)?
Mumps vaccine (usually MMR), is the best way to prevent mumps. Other things people can do to prevent mumps and other infections is to wash hands well and often with soap, and to teach children to wash their hands too. Eating utensils should not be shared, and surfaces that are frequently touched (toys, doorknobs, tables, counters, etc) should also be regularly cleaned with soap and water, or with cleaning wipes.
Is there a vaccine to prevent mumps?
Yes. Two doses of mumps-containing vaccine, given as combination measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, separated by at least 28 days, are routinely recommended for all children. The first dose is given on or after the first birthday; the second is given at 4 - 6 years of age. MMR is a live, weakened (attenuated) vaccine. Most adults who have not been vaccinated should also receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine, but adults who work in healthcare, a school/university setting, and persons at high risk of exposure to mumps should get 2 doses. Pregnant women and persons with an impaired immune system should not receive live attenuated vaccines (MMR vaccine).
Is the vaccine effective/does it work?
One dose of mumps vaccine will 'take' (be effective) in approximately 80% of people vaccinated, but two doses of mumps vaccine will 'take' in approximately 90% of people. Therefore, two doses are better at preventing mumps than one dose.
Where can I get the vaccine?
Most family and pediatric doctors keep vaccine in their clinics; and local health departments usually have vaccine. If someone isn't sure where to get vaccine, they can call the local or state health department.
What should I do if I don't know if I've been vaccinated?
Get vaccinated. The MMR vaccine is safe and there is no increased risk of side effects if a person gets another vaccination.
If I had mumps as a child, can I get it again/should I get vaccinated?
Most people who have mumps will be protected (immune) from getting mumps again. There is a small percent of people though, who could get reinfected with mumps and have a milder illness. If mumps was not diagnosed by a physician, then that person is not considered immune and vaccination is recommended.
If I was exposed to someone with mumps, what should I do?
Not everyone who is exposed to someone with mumps will get sick. If a person has been vaccinated with two doses of mumps vaccine, it is very unlikely they will get mumps. However, if a person hasn't been vaccinated, it is possible they could get sick and they should watch for symptoms of mumps. Additionally, if a person hasn't been vaccinated, this is a good time to get another dose of mumps vaccine, and to make sure that everyone else in the house where they live is also vaccinated. Mumps vaccine has not been shown to be effective in preventing disease after exposure, but vaccination of exposed susceptible persons will reduce the risk of disease from possible future exposures. If symptoms develop (generally 16-18 days after exposure), the person should not go to school or work for at least 5 days and should contact their medical provider.
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Last Editorial Review: 2/12/2010