Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It is spread by direct contact with or by inhaling droplets that contain the virus. Although mumps virus has been found in saliva from seven days before onset of salivary gland swelling to nine days afterwards, a person is most infectious between two days before and five days after swelling. People with mumps virus infection may not have any symptoms, but may still be able to spread the disease to others. Mumps can be spread by:
- Coughing, sneezing, or talking,
- Sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, with others
- Touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.
The most common symptoms of mumps are:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides (puffy cheeks and swollen jaw)
Symptoms typically appear 16 to 18 days after infection.
What do I do if I get mumps?
If you think you or someone in your family may have mumps, let your doctor know right away.
There is no specific treatment for mumps. Most people with mumps recover completely in a few weeks
Immunization against mumps is the best way to prevent becoming infected. Two doses of mumps vaccine, given at 12 to 15 months and at 4 to 6 years of age, is recommended. In the United States, two types of vaccines for mumps are available:
- MMR – combination of vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella (German measles)
- MMRV – combination of vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox)
In January 2018, the CDC published recommendations for use of a third dose of MMR vaccine for people identified as having an increased risk of contracting mumps during an increase in cases, such as those who are in prolonged, close-contact settings like college and university campuses.
If you have not received both doses of the MMR or MMRV vaccine, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
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