Mumps is caused by a virus. It can cause fever, headache, and swollen painful cheeks and neck. It can also cause deafness, infections of the lining around the spinal cord and brain (meningitis), and sterility. Mumps is spread like a cold, by coughing and sneezing.
Symptoms may include:
Some people may not have any symptoms at all.
Mumps is spread by contact with discharge from the nose or throat. The mumps virus can be spread for a few days before symptoms appear and for up to 5 days after.
Adults and children with mumps must stay home from any group setting for five days after they first have symptoms. This includes school, college or university, childcare facilities, and workplaces.
Most often, it is school age children who get mumps. Young adults may also get it.
Mumps can be serious. Most people recover but mumps can lead to meningitis (a swelling of the covering of the brain), swelling of the ovaries, inflammation of the pancreas, and short-term or permanent hearing loss. These reactions are rare, but they do happen.
Mumps can be especially serious for pregnant women. Pregnant women who get mumps risk having a miscarriage, premature or early labour, and low birth weight babies.
Pregnant women who are in contact with anyone who has mumps should contact their family doctor.
There is no treatment for mumps.
Getting vaccinated is your best protection against mumps. All children should receive mumps vaccine twice: at one year of age and again before they start school. The vaccine is given with the measles, rubella and chicken pox vaccine.
If you have not had mumps or not received the mumps vaccine, avoid close contact with anyone who has mumps.