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Mumps is an infection caused by the mumps virus. Infections occur most often in childhood but, can happen in adults.

Since the introduction of the mumps vaccine, rates of mumps disease have dropped greatly.

In 2008, a mumps outbreak occurred in British Columbia, originating in a faith-based community resistant to vaccination and culminating in 161 confirmed and clinical cases.  There was reduced mumps activity in the province in 2009 (25 cases) and 2010 (11 cases). 

Another mumps outbreak occurred in BC in 2011 with 132 confirmed cases among BC residents.  The outbreak started in January in the ski resort of Whistler and spread to the Lower Mainland, peaking in the first week of July.  The median age was 27 years (range 10 months to 66 years).  There were 39 cases (21%) with no record of mumps immunization, 84 cases (45%) had received one dose of mumps vaccine (including 58 cases with 'verbal history of childhood vaccines'), 13 cases (7%) had received two doses of mumps-containing vaccine, and 50 cases (27%) had an unknown immunization history.  There were no deaths associated with the outbreak but one case of mumps meningitis.

Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine 2-dose coverage at the second birthday has ranged from 74% to 76% in BC for the 2007 to 2010 birth cohorts.

For more information about cases of mumps in British Columbia see the most recent Annual Summary of Reportable Diseases or Vaccine Preventable Disease Reports.

Information for Health Professionals

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:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • 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.

SOURCE: Mumps ( )
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