Mumps: Causes, treatment, and prevention

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It typically leads to painful swelling of the parotid, or salivary, glands. This leads to puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.

Outbreaks are not common in the United States (U.S.). The number of cases varies from year to year. In 2012, 229 cases of mumps were reported, and in 2016, there were 5,748 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

From January 1 to March 25, 2017, 1,965 cases were reported in 42 states.

Since the mumps vaccine was introduced, the number of cases has fallen by 99 percent. Those at highest risk of infection are young children who have not been vaccinated.

Mumps can happen in any season.

After having mumps once, the person is normally immune, and they will not get it again.

Symptoms

[mumps affects the salivary glands ]
Mumps can cause swelling in the salivary glands.

Symptoms of mumps generally begin to develop 16 to 18 days after initial infection, but this can range from 12 to 25 days. This is known as the incubation period.

Symptoms include:

painful and swollen glands in the cheeks, neck or under the jaw

fever

headache

muscle aches

tiredness

loss of appetite

pain when swallowing

dry mouth

The symptoms usually start to disappear after 7 to 10 days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most people experience symptoms, but 15 to 20 percent of people show no clinical evidence of infection. It is possible to have mumps without knowing.

In up to 50 percent of people, symptoms are not specific to mumps and the condition resembles a respiratory infection.

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Transmission

The mumps virus is most likely to spread where people are crowded together, for example, in schools and nurseries.

It spreads through airborne droplets, through direct contact with saliva or respiratory secretions. It can be passed on through touching an item that someone has coughed on.

The chance of getting mumps increases as a person spends more time and has more contact with a patient.

A person who is diagnosed with mumps should stay home from work or school and avoid close contact with others until at least 5 days after the swelling starts.

Diagnosis

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