Mumps

Mumps is a contagious viral disease that affects the salivary glands.  Typically, it is a mild childhood disease affecting children between the ages of five and nine.  In cases where adults are affected, complications tend to be more serious.  In rare cases when serious complications do occur, they can include inflammation of the testicles, brain (encephalitis), ovaries and tissues covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).

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What is Mumps?

Mumps is a contagious viral disease that affects the salivary glands.  Typically, it is a mild childhood disease affecting children between the ages of five and nine.  In cases where adults are affected, complications tend to be more serious.  In rare cases when serious complications do occur, they can include inflammation of the testicles, brain (encephalitis), ovaries and tissues covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).

Mumps is not common in the United States due to an effective vaccination program.  Outbreaks that do occur are commonly in places where people have close, prolonged contact such as in dormitories or schools.  Worldwide, there were over 300,000 cases in 20143

The mumps virus is a member of the paramyxovirus family, which also includes the measles and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).  It is an enveloped single stranded RNA virus.  

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Mumps is characterized by puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that result from swollen salivary glands.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain while chewing or swallowing
  • Swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides of the face.

 Symptoms typically appear two to three weeks after infection, but this period can range from 12 – 25 days.

HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?

Mumps can be spread by saliva or mucus either through airborne droplets released when an infected person sneezes or coughs, or via direct contact with an infected person.  The droplets can settle on an object or other surface and then be picked up on the hands of individuals.  In addition, sharing items such as utensils or cups can spread the virus.

HOW IS IT CONTROLLED?

Mumps can be prevented with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.  Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at preventing mumps2.

As with any droplet-transmitted virus, proper handwashing and the use of tissues when sneezing can help stop the spread.  Anyone with mumps should stay home and away from public settings such as school, daycare or work until five days after symptoms begin.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION 

1)  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mumps/basics/definition/con-20019914

2) http://www.cdc.gov/mumps

3) http://www.who.int/topics/mumps/en