Mumps is an infection caused by the mumps virus. Since the introduction of the mumps vaccine into routine childhood immunization in BC in 1981 and a subsequent 2nd dose for children at 18 months of age starting in 1996, rates of mumps disease have declined by over 99%. In the pre-vaccine era, infections occurred most often in childhood, but in recent years, the age group most affected are adults born 1970 through 1994, who are less likely to have received two doses of mumps-containing vaccine.
Mumps remains endemic in Canada, unlike measles and rubella. In most years in BC, mumps cases occur sporadically, but since 2008 some years have been characterized by outbreaks: 2008, 2011, 2013, and 2016. For details of these, please see Annual Summaries of Reportable Diseases and Vaccine Preventable Disease Reports.
Mumps is a disease caused by the mumps virus. Mumps was a common childhood disease before vaccination. Now it is more common in young adults.
Signs and symptoms of mumps may include:
- Swollen and painful salivary glands
- Swollen and painful testicles/ovaries
Up to 1 in 5 people with mumps do not have any symptoms. About 1 in 3 people with mumps do not have salivary gland swelling. However, they can still spread the mumps virus to other people.
Mumps is spread by contact with respiratory secretions like saliva. Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes near you, or shares food, drinks, cigarettes or a kiss with you.
Mumps can cause serious illness, such as:
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis),
- Infection of the lining of the brain (mumps meningitis)
- Temporary deafness
- Permanent deafness occurs in less than 5 in 100,000 people who get mumps
- Increase rate of miscarriage if contracted in the early stage of pregnancy
- Mumps is not known to cause birth defects.
Mumps can be diagnosed by:
- A physician who assess your symptoms
- Blood test
- Viral culture (from inside the mouth or from urine)
In most cases, people recover from mumps with rest and care at home. In complicated cases, hospitalization may be required. After seeing a doctor, the following home treatment tips may help you to be more comfortable while you rest and recover.
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water, juice and soup, especially if you have a fever.
- For a fever, use acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Tempra®, Atasol®) to bring the fever down. ASA or Aspirin® should NOT be given to anyone under 18 years of age due to the risk of Reye Syndrome with some virus infections.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Use an ice pack or heating pad for a swollen or painful jaw. Be sure to place a light towel on the jaw to protect the skin.
- Avoid sour foods or sour liquids because the inflamed salivary glands are very sensitive to sour tastes.
- Eat ice chips or flavoured ice treats, and soft foods that do not require chewing.
Mumps can almost always be prevented by getting a series of two shots with the combination measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.