Mumps is a contagious infection caused by a virus. Mumps is most common in children, although sometimes adults get it too.
What are the symptoms?
- Mumps causes fever, aches and pains, headaches and swelling of the salivary glands around the jaw and cheeks. This swelling is painful and makes the cheeks puff out. The glands usually become more swollen and painful over 1 to 3 days. Chewing and swallowing can become painful.
- Some children infected with mumps have no symptoms at all, or may seem to have a cold, but can still spread the infection to others.
- In severe cases, mumps can cause meningitis, a serious disease that infects the fluid around the brain and spinal cord or encephalitis (swelling in the brain). This can lead to seizures, hearing loss, or death.
- Older boys and men sometimes get orchitis (painful swelling of the testicles), which can cause sterility (not able to get a woman pregnant).
- Women may have a painful infection of the ovaries, but it does not prevent pregnancy.
How does mumps spread?
Mumps spreads through the saliva and secretions from the nose.
- The mumps virus passes from person to person through droplets from the nose or throat of someone with mumps. These droplets may land in the nose or mouth of someone who is close by, especially when the infected person coughs or sneezes.
- Infection can also be spread through contact with saliva such as kissing, sharing a toy that has been in the mouth, sharing a glass — with an infected person.
How can I protect my child?
Get your child vaccinated.
More information from the CPS:
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
- Infectious Diseases and Immunization Committee
Last Updated: August 2015