skip navigation , health centers and clinics , search , accessibility statement , Página en español ,
Contra Costa Health Services
contact us | español

Also of interest
Home > Health Topics > Mumps > Fact Sheet


Fact Sheet

What is mumps?
Mumps is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the salivary glands of an infected person.

Who can get mumps?
Mumps can affect any person of any age who has not had the disease or been immunized against it.

How is mumps spread?
The virus is in the saliva of an infected person and is spread from person to person through the air by coughing, sneezing or simply talking. Mumps is less contagious than measles or chickenpox.

What are the signs and symptoms of mumps?
The disease begins with low grade fever, headache, muscle pain and general feeling of discomfort. Commonly the cheek and jaw area (salivary glands) typically swell on one or both sides within the first 2 days of illness.

How soon do symptoms appear after exposure?
People start to show signs of mumps 2 to 3 weeks after they are exposed.

How can a doctor confirm that an illness is mumps?
Mumps is confirmed through a blood test or by testing saliva.

When and for how long is a person able to spread mumps?
From 3 days before the onset of symptoms, to the ninth day after symptoms begin.

What are the complications associated with mumps?
Children under two years of age usually have mild cases of mumps.
About 1 child in every 10 who gets mumps also gets meningitis (an inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord). Occasionally mumps can cause encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain itself. Usually, the child recovers without permanent damage.
Teenage or adult men who get mumps may develop a painful swelling of the testicles. Sterility is rare.
Mumps can, but rarely causes deafness or death.

Is there a treatment for mumps?
There is no specific treatment for mumps.

Can mumps be prevented?
Yes. Mumps vaccine given in combination with Measles and Rubella (called MMR vaccine) is recommended for all children at 12-15 months of age and at 4-6 years of age.

See more information designed specifically for health care providers.

Content provided by the Public Health Division of Contra Costa Health Services.

Contra Costa County home page