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Doctor checking neck glands.

Mumps is a highly infectious viral disease that is spread from person to person.  The illness is commonly characterized by swelling of the salivary glands between the neck and ears. Mumps infections occur with greater frequency during late fall, winter, and early spring months. However, mumps outbreaks can occur any time of year and in highly vaccinated communities. Recently, a number of cases and outbreaks have been reported, primarily associated with college settings.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella and can provide an 88% reduction in risk for mumps in a person who has received both doses.  The MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent Mumps.


What are the symptoms of Mumps?

Mumps typically starts with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and a loss of appetite.  It is after this that the characteristic parotitis (swelling of the salivary glands) is typically seen in the majority of cases.


How is Mumps spread?

A person infected with Mumps is contagious for several days before and after they experience symptoms.  The disease can be spread through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, nose, or throat.  The virus can be spread by an infected person through:

  • coughing, sneezing, or talking
  • sharing items with saliva on them (eating and drinking utensils)
  • close-contact with a contaminated person
  • contact with a contaminated surface without proper hand hygiene


Why are their still Mumps outbreaks?

The United Stated started its mumps vaccination program in 1967, which resulted in a 99% decrease in mumps cases.  Outbreaks are more likely to occur when close contact is maintained in a group over a prolonged period of time.  Groups that share a common living space or participate in communal activities have been linked to mumps outbreaks for this reason.


What does Mumps look like?


Content provided courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)