Disease Topics:Mumps

"An acute infectious and contagious disease caused by a mumps virus of the genus Rubulavirus and characterized by fever, inflammation and swelling of the parotid gland, and sometimes of other salivary glands, and occasionally by inflammation of the testis, ovary, pancreas, or mMumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that passes from one person to another through saliva, nasal secretions, and close personal contact.

The condition primarily affects the parotid glands. Parotid glands — also called salivary glands — are the organs responsible for producing saliva. There are three sets of salivary glands on each side of your face, located behind and below your ears. The hallmark symptom of mumps is swelling of the salivary glands.



Mumps is a highly contagious infection spread by a paramyxovirus.

The virus can travel in the air through coughs and sneezes, it may be on surfaces people touch, such as door handles or it can be picked-up from cups, cutlery, bowls or plates.

The most common symptom of mumps is swollen salivary glands (parotid) glands in the neck, sometimes referred to as a 'hamster face' appearance. The swelling can be on one or both sides of the neck.

Mumps can be prevented in 95% of cases by having the routine MMR vaccination in childhood or later in life.

Cases of mumps have been rising. There were 4,035 confirmed cases of mumps in England and Wales in 2013, compared to 2,564 in 2012.

Below are pictures of swollen neck glands from mumps in a child and in an adult.

child with mumpsman with mumps



Mumps symptoms

Mumps is most contagious usually before symptoms are noticed.

Mumps has an incubation period of 7-18 days, but on average is around 10 days after exposure.

As well as the tell-tale neck swelling, symptoms may include pain and discomfort from the swelling, fever, headache, feeling sick, dry mouthjoint aches and a general malaise.

Ear pain may be felt, especially when chewing. A sour taste in the mouth may be experienced and swallowing may be difficult.

Mumps can result in complications like meningitis and painful swelling of thetesticles ( orchitis) or ovaries (oophoritis).

In children and adults with mumps and no complications, most get better and have no further side effects.

However, in rare cases neurological damage, hearing losspancreatitis and even death can occur.

Mumps in pregnancy can be dangerous, with an increased risk of miscarriage in the first 12-16 weeks.

Diagnosis of mumps

A doctor will diagnose mumps from the symptoms a patient has, especially theswollen glands.

Blood, urine or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tests may be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

What Are the Symptoms of Mumps?

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Symptoms of mumps usually appear within two weeks of exposure to the virus. Flu-like symptoms may be the first to appear, including:

  • fatigue
  • body aches
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • low-grade fever

A high fever (up to 103 degrees Fahrenheit) and swelling of the salivary glands follow over the next few days. The glands may not all swell at once. More commonly, they swell and become painful periodically. You are most likely to pass the mumps virus to another person from the time you come into contact with the virus to when your parotid glands swell.

Most people who contract mumps show symptoms of the virus. However, some people have no or very few symptoms.

What Are the Complications Associated with Mumps?

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Complications from mumps are rare, but they can be serious if left untreated. Mumps mostly affects the parotid glands. However, it can also cause inflammation in other areas of the body, including the brain and reproductive organs.

Orchitis is an inflammation of the testicles that may be due to mumps. You can manage orchitis pain by placing cold packs on the testicles several times a day. Your doctor may recommend prescription-strength painkillers if necessary. In rare cases, orchitis can cause sterility in males.

Females infected with mumps may experience swelling of the ovaries. The inflammation can be painful but doesn’t harm a woman’s eggs. However, if a woman contracts mumps during pregnancy, she has a higher-than-normal risk of suffering a miscarriage.

Mumps may lead to meningitis or encephalitis, two potentially fatal conditions if left untreated. Meningitis is swelling of the membranes around your spinal cord and brain. Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain itself. Contact your doctor if you experience seizures, loss of consciousness, or severe headaches while you have mumps.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, an organ in the abdominal cavity. Mumps-induced pancreatitis is a temporary condition. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.


Image result for mumpsImage result for mumpsImage result for mumps

What Is the Treatment for Mumps?

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Because mumps is a virus, it doesn’t respond to antibiotics or other medications. However, you can treat the symptoms to make yourself more comfortable while you’re sick.

  • Rest when you feel weak or tired.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, to bring down your fever.
  • Soothe swollen glands by applying ice packs.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration due to fever.
  • Eat a soft diet of soup, yogurt, and other foods that aren’t hard to chew (chewing may be painful when your glands are swollen)
  • Avoid acidic foods and beverages that may cause more pain in your salivary glands.

You can usually return to work or school about one week after a doctor diagnoses your mumps, if you feel up to it. By this point, you’re no longer contagious. Mumps usually runs its course in a couple of weeks. Ten days into your illness, you should be feeling better.

Most people who get mumps can’t contract the disease a second time. Having the virus once protects you against becoming infected again.

How Can I Prevent Mumps?

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Vaccination can prevent mumps. Most infants and children receive a vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) at the same time. The first MMR shot is generally given between the ages of 12 and 15 months at a routine well-child visit. A second vaccination is necessary for school-aged children between 4 and 6 years old.

Adults who were born before 1957 and haven’t yet contracted mumps may wish to be vaccinated. Those who work in a high-risk environment, such as a hospital or school, should always be vaccinated against mumps.

However, patients who have a compromised immune system, who are allergic to gelatin or neomycin, or who are pregnant, shouldn’t receive the MMR vaccine.

Consult your family doctor about an immunization schedule for you and your children.

Treatment for mumps

There is no treatment for mumps itself, but age-appropriate painkillers, such asparacetamol or ibuprofen may help relieve some of the symptoms.

A cold compress such as a moist flannel may help relieve some of the pain from the swollen glands.

Resting and drinking plenty of fluids may be advised, as well as having food such as soup that doesn't need to be chewed.

Always seek medical advice if you suspect mumps. GPs need to know about cases of mumps so that public health authorities can help stop the infection spreading.

Preventing mumps

To help prevent spreading the virus, anyone with mumps should be kept away from school, university or work until five days after symptoms begin.

The same precautions used in cold and flu prevention help stop mumps from spreading: proper hand washing and using a tissue to catch sneezes, then putting it in a bin straight afterwards.

If someone has already had mumps as a child, they usually have lifelong immunity, although second infections have been known.

The number of children having the MMR ( measles, mumps and rubella) jab fell for some time after a false scare about safety of the vaccine - which was later discredited. As a result of this, there are teenagers and young adults who didn’t have the vaccine in childhood who are at risk if they don’t get a catch-up jab.

Vaccination against mumps may also be advised for unvaccinated adults travelling to parts of the world where it is more common.

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