What Is Mumps?
| What Is the Mumps Vaccine?
| Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?
| What Are the Risks Associated With the Mumps Vaccine?
| Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
| What Other Ways Can Mumps Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?
| What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?
What Is Mumps?
is a highly contagious infection. It results in fever and swelling of the parotid glands. These are salivary glands located near the front of the ear. Mumps is caused by a virus.
The virus is usually spread through contact with an infected person's saliva. Since the virus is highly contagious, it spreads easily among people in close contact.
Once a common childhood illness, mumps is now rarely seen in the Unite States. This is largely because of the use of the vaccine, which provides lifelong immunity.
- Painful swelling of the parotid glands (under the cheeks and jaw)
- Stiff neck
- Nausea and vomiting
- Swelling and pain under the tongue, jaw, or front of the chest
- In males: painful inflammation of the testicles
- In females: inflammation of the ovaries, which results in pain or tenderness in the abdomen
In some cases, people have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, it is generally 2-3 weeks after exposure.
There are no medicines or specific treatments for mumps. Since the illness is caused by a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Mumps should
be treated with aspirin. Treatment is aimed at improving comfort, which may include:
- Applying hot or cold compresses to swollen areas
- Gargling with warm saltwater
- Using non-aspirin pain relievers
- Using fever-reducing medicines (eg, acetaminophen, ibuprofen)
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Avoiding tart or acidic drinks (eg, orange juice, lemonade)
- Eating a soft, bland diet
What Is the Mumps Vaccine?
The mumps vaccine is usually given in combination with:
Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?
All children (with few exceptions) should receive the vaccine two times:
- 12-15 months
- 4-6 years (school entry)—can be given earlier, but the two doses must be separated by at least four weeks
The vaccine can also be given to infants aged 6-11 months who will be traveling internationally. These infants should also get the two routine shots at ages 12-15 months and 4-6 years.
For those 18 years of age or younger who have not been vaccinated, two doses of MMR are given. The doses are separated by four weeks.
Adults born after 1957 who have not been previously vaccinated may need 1-2 doses. Talk with your doctor if you were not previously vaccinated.
What Are the Risks Associated With the Mumps Vaccine?
Like any vaccine, the MMR vaccine could cause serious problems. While most people do not have any problems with the MMR vaccine, some have reported:
- Mild problems: fever, a mild rash, or swelling of the glands in the cheeks or neck
- Moderate problems: seizure caused by fever, temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, and low platelet count
- Very rare: serious allergic reactions
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
You should not get the vaccine if you:
Had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic
, or a previous dose of MMR vaccine
- Are moderately or severely ill—Wait until you recover.
- Pregnant women—Wait until after you have given birth. If you are planning on becoming pregnant, wait until four weeks after getting the vaccine.
Talk to your doctor before getting the vaccine if you have the following conditions:
A condition that affects the immune system (eg,
- Are being treated with drugs that affect the immune system (eg, long-term steroids)
or are being treated for cancer
- Low blood platelet count
Have had a
What Other Ways Can Mumps Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?
Other than getting the vaccine, the best way to prevent mumps is to avoid contact with an infected person.
What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?
A case of mumps needs to be reported to public health authorities. If you think you or your child has mumps, call the doctor right away.
Anyone who may have been exposed and has not been fully immunized will need to receive the vaccine.