Mumps, also known as epidemic parotitis, is a viral disease caused by the mumps virus. Initial signs and symptoms often include fever, muscle pain, headache, and feeling tired. This is then usually followed by painful swelling of one or both parotid glands.
Transmission of Mumps
Mumps spreads through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat. The virus can be spread by:
- Coughing, sneezing, or talking
- Sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, with others
- Touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides (parotitis)
- Inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty; rarely leading to fertility problems
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
- Inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
- Inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breasts (mastitis) in females who have reached puberty
Mumps likely spreads before the salivary glands begin to swell and up to five days after the swelling begins.
Symptoms of Mumps
Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that it causes. This is a result of swollen salivary glands. The most common symptoms include:
Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection. Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks.
Mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults. These may include:
Prevention of Mumps Transmission
You have the power to protect your child and others against mumps with a safe and effective vaccine. The best protection against mumps is measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
For those already affected by mumps, isolation is recommended in the first five days following the onset of symptoms. Healthcare providers should follow standard and droplet precautions.
Symptoms may be relieved by the application of intermittent ice or heat to the affected area and by acetaminophen for pain relief. Warm saltwater gargles, soft foods, and extra fluids may also help relieve symptoms. Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) is not used to treat children due to the risk of Reye's syndrome.
There are currently no travel recommendations related to mumps, but because it is a common disease in many parts of the world, travelers should protect themselves against it by ensuring they are properly vaccinated.