What is mumps?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and tender, swollen jaw that it causes. This is a result of swollen salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides.
Mumps spreads through direct contact with saliva or other respiratory droplets through coughing, sneezing or talking; sharing items, such as water bottles or cups; participating in close-contact activities with others; and touching contaminated objects or surfaces. An infected person can spread the virus three days before their salivary glands begin to swell to five days after the swelling begins.
Know the signs
Symptoms typically appear 16 to 18 days after infection, but may show up between 12 and 25 days, and can include:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Inflammation of the testicles in males who have reached puberty, which can lead to a decrease in testicular size
- Inflammation of the ovaries or breast tissue in women
- Inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis
- Inflammation of the brain, known as encephalitis
- Inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord, known as meningitis
Mumps is preventable. Make sure you and your loved ones are up to date on your MMR vaccine. Your doctor may recommend that you get an additional vaccine dose if you are part of a group at increased risk.
“The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective,” says Dr. Abisola Olulade, a family medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “Two doses are almost 90% effective at protecting against mumps and the complications associated with it. It also helps prevent measles and rubella. Children should get two doses of the MMR vaccine, starting with the first one at 12 to 15 months of age, with the second dose between 4 and 6 years of age.”
There are additional ways to prevent the spread of the virus that causes mumps along with other contagious illnesses:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze — never cough or sneeze into your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid sharing objects that might have saliva on them, such as drinking containers.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys, doorknobs and counters.
Talk to your doctor if you or a loved one may have mumps or may have been exposed to mumps. To learn more about mumps and the mumps vaccination, visit the CDC mumps website.
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Olulade about the mumps for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.