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Mumps Disease

What is mumps?
Mumps (also known as epidemic parotiditis) is a
contagious viral disease that can infect people of any age.
It is more common in school-aged children and young
One of the main symptoms is swelling of the glands in
the cheeks and jaw. The swelling is caused by an
infection of the salivary glands.
How can I get mumps?
Mumps is rarely seen in Canada due to high vaccination
The virus that causes mumps disease spread through the
air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can
also become infected through direct contact with the
saliva of an infected person. The most common contact
is through kissing or sharing items such as food, drinks,
cigarettes, and water bottles with the infected person.
Mumps virus can spread for about seven days before
symptoms appear and for up to nine days afterwards.
Who is at risk of getting mumps?
Anyone born before 1970 is considered protected from
People at risk include anyone born in 1970 or later who:

has not received two doses of mumps vaccine,


who has never had mumps disease

Infants under the age of 12 months are most at risk
because the vaccination is not given until children are 12
months of age or older.
Who is most at risk for complications from
Mumps can cause serious complications (problems) in:
Infants under one year of age
Pregnant women in their first trimester, as they may
have a miscarriage

People who have problems with their immune system

may have difficulty fighting off the infection.
Infection in adults is more likely to be severe. Death
resulting from mumps and its complications while rare
occurs most often in adults.
Can I get mumps more than once?
No. Once someone has had mumps they are protected
for life.
How do I know if I have mumps?
Some people with mumps have no symptoms at all.
However, they are still infectious and can spread the
disease to other people.
More commonly, symptoms start about 16 18 days after
contact with the infected person. At this time, they are
very non-specific and may include
dry mouth
loss of appetite
These symptoms may last for a couple of days. The
person is considered contagious at this time and can
spread the infection to others.
Next, the infected person may develop an earache and
pain upon opening the mouth. A day or so later, swelling
of the cheeks and jaw appears. The swelling lasts for two
or more days.
The person is considered infectious for a full nine days
after the swelling appears.
If I have contact with the infection, how long
does it take to get mumps?
Symptoms (fever, swelling and tenderness of the salivary
gland) can appear from 14 to 25 days after contact with
someone who is infected with mumps.
Usually the symptoms appear in 16 to 18 days.

What can happen if I get mumps?

Most people who get mumps are sick for up to 10 days
and then recover completely. Symptoms are more severe
for infants and adults.
Complications of mumps include:
pneumonia (lung infection)
meningitis (swelling/ inflammation of the
membrane around the brain and spinal cord)
encephalitis (swelling/inflammation of the brain)
middle ear infections
seizures and convulsions
deafness which is usually temporary
painful swelling of the testicles in teenage boys
and men
painful swelling of the ovaries in women and girls
Pregnant women who develop mumps in the first three
months of their pregnancy can have a miscarriage.
Mumps disease does not cause birth defects.
How is mumps diagnosed?
Mumps can be diagnosed by the common signs and
symptoms. However, as mumps is now rarely seen in
Canada, it is important to confirm each infection with lab
tests ordered by a doctor. These lab tests include:

blood samples
a urine sample
a swab of the inside of your cheek

How is mumps treated?

There is no specific treatment for mumps. The disease is
caused by a virus, and not bacteria; therefore, antibiotics
will not help. Supportive care in hospital may be needed
for severe infections, but most people can recover at
If you think you have mumps, call your doctors office.
Tell them about your symptoms and that you have may
have been exposed to mumps disease. The office needs
to arrange appropriate infection control measures for the
time of your appointment so that the infection is not
passed to others.
Someone who has mumps should stay home from
daycare, pre-school, school, or work for nine days after
the swelling develops.

What can I do to prevent mumps?

People born before 1970 are considered protected from
mumps disease.
Everyone else should have at least one dose of the
mumps vaccine, given after his or her first birthday. For
full protection against mumps, two doses of vaccine are
required. Children should have both doses of mumps
vaccine by 18 months of age.
Post-secondary students may not have received a second
dose of mumps vaccine. (These students can get a
catch-up booster of this vaccine from their local health
care provider, family doctor or the Health Service at their
college or university. This catch-up will only be offered
in early 2009.)
Do not share saliva with others through kissing or
sharing food, drinks, cigarettes, water bottles or musical
instruments. When you cough and sneeze, cover your
mouth and nose with a tissue, or use your sleeve.
Always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
What can I do if I come into contact with
someone who has mumps?
If you come into contact with someone who has mumps,
call your doctor.
If you have never received the mumps vaccine you may
be excluded from school, daycare, work or group
Getting the vaccine after an exposure to someone with
the disease will not prevent infection. However, mumps
vaccine is recommended after exposure to provide
protection against future exposures.
Who can I call for more information?
For more information about your exposure to mumps or
mumps immunization, talk to your health care provider
or call the Halton Region Health Department at the
number below.
For more information, please contact

Halton Region
Toll Free: 1-866-4HALTON (1-866-442-5866)
TTY: 905-827-9833
October 2008