Mumps is a viral illness that affects the salivary glands.
People of any age can get mumps, but in the United States most cases of mumps occur in children between 5 and 19 years of age.
Like influenza, mumps spreads on respiratory droplets that are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, body aches, headaches, and swelling of the salivary glands. The parotid gland, located just below and in front of the ear, is most often affected. About a third of people who contract the mumps virus do not develop symptoms.
If a person who has not been vaccinated gets infected with mumps, receiving the vaccine will not help prevent disease. If an unvaccinated person is exposed to mumps but does not become infected, the vaccine will help protect the person from future infection.
Posters on preventing the spread of germs are available online, including:
Symptoms usually occur 14 to 18 days after infection. The lag between infection and illness can be as short as 12 days or as long as 25 days.
People with mumps are usually contagious from 2 days before to 5 days after they develop symptoms. A person is most contagious just before symptoms appear.
Yes, infection provides lifelong immunity to mumps.
Yes, mumps vaccine is given on or after a child's first birthday. It is usually combined with measles and rubella vaccines in a formulation known as MMR (measles, mumps, rubella). A second dose of mumps vaccine is recommended before children enter school at 4 to 6 years of age. Anyone who has received 2 doses of mumps vaccine is much less likely to develop mumps. For information on where your child can get vaccinated, call 311.
No, MMR vaccination is not recommended before a child’s first birthday.
The body usually takes 10 to 14 days to respond to the first dose of mumps vaccine. Full immunity usually isn’t achieved until approximately 7 days after the second dose.
Adults who do not have records confirming they received two mumps vaccinations should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Adults who were born after 1957 and were never vaccinated against mumps should receive two doses of MMR vaccine.
Contact your doctor or call 311 about the nearest location where you can receive free or low-cost mumps vaccination
Studies suggest that the mumps vaccine is 80% to 90% effective. That means that for every 100 people vaccinated, 80 to 90 of them will be fully protected but 10 to 20 will remain susceptible to the disease. (By comparison, the measles vaccine is about 98% to 99% effective.) Though mumps vaccination cannot protect everyone, it greatly reduces the number of people who get sick when exposed to the virus. If a community maintains a high vaccination rate, the risk of exposure declines too. And while vaccination cannot protect everyone from developing mumps, people who get mumps following vaccination are at lower risk of complications.
Yes, in 2006 there was an outbreak of mumps in the Midwestern United States. The outbreak occurred predominantly among college students who had already been vaccinated. Also, there was an outbreak of mumps that occurred in 2009-2010 mostly among school-aged children who had been vaccinated in New York City.
Download a PDF version of Mumps FAQ in Spanish (PDF).