Mumps is a contagious viral
infection that can cause painful swelling of the
salivary glands, especially the
parotid glands (between the ear and the jaw). Some people with mumps
won't have gland swelling. They may feel like they have a bad cold or the flu instead.
Mumps usually goes away on its own in about 10 days. But in some cases it can cause complications that affect the brain (meningitis), the testicles (orchitis), the ovaries (oophoritis), or the pancreas (pancreatitis).
The mumps vaccine protects against the illness. This vaccine is part of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella [chickenpox]) vaccines. Most children get the vaccine as part of their regular shots. Before the mumps vaccine existed, mumps was a common childhood disease
in the United States and Canada.
Mumps is spread when an
infected person coughs or sneezes near you or shares food or drinks.
You can spread the virus 7 days before and for 9 days after symptoms start. You are most likely to spread the virus 1 to 2 days before and 5 days after symptoms start.
Symptoms may include:
It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to get symptoms after you have been exposed to the virus. This is called the incubation period. Some people who are infected with the mumps
virus don't have any symptoms.
If you have more serious symptoms, such as a stiff neck or a severe headache, painful testicles, or severe belly pain, call your doctor right away.
Mumps is usually diagnosed based on symptoms and a history of exposure to the virus. If needed, a blood test can be done to confirm that you have mumps and rule out other illnesses.
The mumps virus can be identified with a
viral culture using a sample of urine, saliva, or
cerebrospinal fluid. These tests are rarely done.
If you think that you or your child has mumps, be sure to call your doctor so that he or she can report it to the local health department. The health department needs to record all cases of this illness.
In most cases, people recover
from mumps with rest and care at home. In complicated cases, a hospital stay
may be required.
If you or your child has mumps:
Anyone who has mumps should stay out of school, day care, work, and public
places until 5 days after the
salivary glands first start to swell.1
In general, you don't need to separate the sick person from the rest of the family. By the time mumps is diagnosed, most household
members have already been exposed.
Getting your child vaccinated is important, because mumps can sometimes cause serious problems. It's also important because mumps is a contagious disease, and outbreaks can easily occur.
False claims in the news have made some parents concerned about a link between autism and vaccines. But studies have found no link between them.2
Learning about mumps:
This American Academy of Pediatrics website has information for parents about childhood issues, from before the child is born to young adulthood. You'll find information on child growth and development, immunizations, safety, health issues, behavior, and much more.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a
variety of educational materials about parenting,
general growth and development, immunizations, safety, disease prevention, and more. AAP guidelines for various conditions and links to other
organizations are also available.
This CDC website has information about vaccines and the diseases that can
be prevented by immunization. It includes the recommended
immunization schedules for children, teens, and adults. You can also find
information about vaccine side effects and safety, school and state
requirements, and immunization records. Interactive schedules are also
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
The National Network for Immunization Information provides
information on immunizations, including each of the recommended childhood
vaccines, the recommended childhood immunization schedule, tips on using the
World Wide Web as a source of immunization and health information, and links to
other helpful sites. You can also search for the vaccines that each state
requires before entry into school or day care.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Updated recommendations for isolation of persons with mumps. MMWR, 57(40): 1103–1105. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5740a3.htm?s_cid=mm5740a3_e.
Peacock G, Yeargin-Allsopp M (2009). Autism spectrum disorders: Prevalence and vaccines. Pediatric Annals, 38(1): 22–25.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Pediatrics (2012). Mumps. In LK Pickering et al., eds., Red Book: 2012 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 29th ed., pp. 514–518. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Use of combination measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccine. MMWR, 59(03): 1–12. Also available online:
Elliman D, et al. (2009). Measles, mumps, and rubella: Prevention, search date July 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Gnann JW Jr (2012). Mumps. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 2109–2111. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Litman N, Baum SG (2010). Mumps virus. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2201–2206. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
Mason WH (2007). Mumps. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed., pp. 1341–1344. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
March 17, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
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