What is Mumps?

Mumps is a contagious viral illness that occurs worldwide. The number of people infected by the disease in the US has decreased dramatically with the introduction of the vaccine. In 1968 there were 152,209 cases reported in the US and in 1998 there were 606 cases reported.

What are the symptoms?

Mumps is characterized by swelling of one or more of the salivary glands, usually below and in front of the ear that causes the cheeks to look swollen. However, about 1/3 of those infected do not experience this symptom. Other symptoms include headache, tiredness, sore throat, fever and chills. Symptoms typically begin 14-18 days after exposure to the virus. Most of the reported cases are in children 5-14 years of age. Infection in adults tends to produce severe disease.

Up to 20% of mumps infections have no symptoms. An additional 40%-50% may have only nonspecific or primarily respiratory symptoms.

How are mumps treated?

Mumps are caused by a virus, so antibiotics will not help.

Most people recover completely on their own. The best treatment is supportive treatment, which includes rest, drinking plenty of fluids and over-the-counter medications to reduce the fever and headache.

How do people catch this disease?

The virus is spread from person-to-person by coughing and sneezing.

What can be done to stop the spread of this disease?

The mumps vaccine is a part of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination.
It is a required vaccination to attend school and day care in South Carolina.

References and Additional Information

Immunization Resources (DHEC)


Health Viruses Infectious Diseases