Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing and through close contact (even regular conversation) with infected people. The primary — and best known — sign of mumps is swollen salivary glands that cause the cheeks to puff out.
While usually a mild disease, mumps can also cause complications such as meningitis (swelling of the brain and spinal cord) and deafness. In addition, about one out of every four teenage or adult men who get mumps will develop a painful swelling of the testicles which can, although rarely, lead to sterility.
Outbreaks in the U.S. continue to put people at risk of mumps and its complications. From year to year, the number of mumps cases range. In 2016, there were approximately 6,366 cases reported to CDC, and as of the beginning of September there have been 4,439 measles cases reported to CDC during 2017.
Learn more about outbreaks of mumps from the CDC.
Some children infected with the mumps virus have either no signs or symptoms or very mild ones. When signs and symptoms do develop, they usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus and may include:
To prevent mumps, children should be vaccinated with the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
For the best protection against mumps, your children need to receive the two recommended doses of the vaccine. The doses should be given between 12 and 15 months and between 4 and 6 years of age. To see if your children are up-to-date on their vaccines, look at the CDC’s immunization schedule and talk to your healthcare provider.
Adults need to be vaccinated against mumps too and should speak to their healthcare provider to make sure they are up-to-date with the MMR and other recommended vaccinations.