What is mumps?

Mumps is an illness caused by a virus.

The virus multiplies in the nose and lymph glands before spreading to other areas of the body including:

  • Salivary glands
  • Pancreas
  • Testes
  • Ovaries

Who gets mumps?

Anyone who has been in direct close contact with someone who has mumps can catch the virus.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

People exposed to the mumps virus may not become ill, or they may have one or more of a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of one or more of the salivary glands and lymph nodes close to the jaw
  • Muscle pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever

How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?

The symptoms usually appear within 14 to 18 days after contact with the virus, but it can range between 12 and 25 days.

How is it spread?

Mumps is spread by:

  • Breathing in the virus after an infected person coughs or
    sneezes near you
  • Coming in direct contact with the saliva of an infected person

People who are infected but not having symptoms are also able to transmit the virus.

How long can an infected person spread this virus?

An infected person can spread the illness starting from three days before until up to nine days after symptoms begin.

Where does mumps occur?

The mumps virus has been found worldwide.

How is mumps diagnosed?

Mumps is diagnosed by the signs and symptoms of the patient. Laboratory tests available at this time are not particularly helpful in making the diagnosis.

What is the treatment for mumps?

There is no specific treatment for mumps.

Should people with mumps be excluded from work or school?

People with mumps should be excluded from:

  • Work
  • School
  • Child care facilities
  • Sensitive occupations
  • Public gatherings
  • Contact with any non-vaccinated person

The exclusion should last for at least five days after the onset of swelling of the lymph nodes or salivary glands.

What are the complications from mumps?

Complications can include:

  • Meningitis (inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal column)
  • Swelling of the testicles or ovaries
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Deafness

How can mumps be prevented?

Receiving the mumps vaccine (MMR) is the primary method of prevention of mumps infections.

Two doses are required to consider a person immune. Two MMR vaccinations provide immunity 95 percent of the time. This means that 5 percent of people are not immune and can be infected by the mumps virus despite being vaccinated twice. Individuals without a documented natural infection or record of two vaccinations with MMR should be vaccinated to prevent infection with the mumps virus.

The MMR vaccine is available at Southern Nevada Health District locations throughout the valley. Visit the Immunization Clinic webpage or call 759-0850 for vaccine information.

Where can I get more information?

Contact your doctor or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.

Visit the Mumps Outbreak webpage to learn more about the 2006 mumps outbreak in the mid-west and the steps the health district took to protect residents and visitors of Southern Nevada.

Contact Information

(702) 759-1000

Updated on: January 4, 2022

Skip to content