Mumps is an acute viral illness which causes swelling of the parotid (salivary) glands. It may affect one side of the face or both sides and can have serious complications.
Mumps is spread via droplet infection i.e. coughs and sneezes. The incubation period of the disease is around 17 days (ranging from 14-25 days). It is infectious from several days before the swelling appears to several days afterwards. The usual symptoms of mumps are easily recognised - the swollen glands in the face are characteristic. In addition, the patient may feel generally unwell before the selling appears with loss of appetite, fever, muscle pain and headache.
- neurological complications such as meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) may occur before or after the facial swelling and even in the absence of any swelling
- pancreatitis (Inflammation of the pancreas)
- orchitis (inflammation of the testes) in the post-pubertal male or oophoritis (inflammation of the ovaries) in the post-pubertal female. Sub-fertility following bilateral orchitis has rarely been reported
- nephritis, arthropathy, cardiac abnormalities and, rarely, death have been reported
Mumps is a potentially serious disease which can be prevented by vaccination. In the UK vaccination against mumps infection is included in the childhood vaccination schedule. The vaccine is part of the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and the objective is to provide two doses at appropriate intervals for all eligible individuals.
The first dose should be given between 12 and 13 months of age. The second dose is given before school entry at 3 years and 4 months or soon thereafter.