What is mumps?
Mumps is an infection caused by a virus. It is now uncommon in Canada because of routine immunization programs.
Outbreaks of mumps continue to occur in people who are not up-to-date with immunizations or who are unvaccinated.
A major factor that contributes to the spread of infection is being in a crowded environment.
What are the symptoms of mumps?
This infection often starts with cold-like symptoms such as:
- muscle aches and pains
- swollen glands at the jaw lines on one or both sides of the face.
Most people recover completely. However, mumps can sometimes cause serious complications. These complications include swelling of the testicles, joints, kidneys and lining of the brain. It can also lead to deafness.
The infection is usually more severe in adults.
How is mumps spread?
When a person with mumps coughs or sneezes, drops containing the virus can spread a short distance through the air and land on other people. They can also land on surfaces and objects and be picked up on the hands of others. Those people may then become infected when they touch their eyes, nose or mouth. Items used by someone with mumps, such as drinking glasses, water bottles or eating utensils can also spread the virus if they are shared.
People with mumps may spread the virus for up to seven days before the gland starts to swell, and for up to five days after.
It takes roughly two to three weeks to become ill with mumps after coming in contact with someone who has the infection. A person who is infected with mumps but does not have any symptoms can still spread the virus.
How is mumps treated?
There is no treatment for mumps because the infection is caused by a virus.
You can treat mild symptoms at home.
How is mumps prevented?
The best protection against mumps is vaccination. In Ontario, the mumps vaccine is combined with the measles and rubella vaccine. It is called the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The MMR vaccine is recommended for all children. It gives them lifelong protection against the measles.
Provincial law states that all children going to school in Ontario must be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella, unless they are excused for medical or philosophical reasons.
Simple preventative measures can reduce the spread of infection.