Infectious Diseases

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What is Mumps?

Mumps is a disease caused by the mumps virus. Mumps commonly causes swelling of one or more of the salivary glands, referred to as parotid glands.

How is it spread?

You can spread mumps when you cough or sneeze and the droplets enter the nose or mouth of another person. The mumps virus is also spread through saliva. If someone shares your cigarette, or drinking straw they can become infected. You can spread mumps even if you do not have symptoms of mumps. If you think you or your child has mumps, you need to let your doctor know so that they can take special care in the office to prevent spreading it to other people.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of mumps include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen and painful glands. Most often it is the glands just below and in front of the ear that become swollen.

The symptoms of mumps can start about 14-25 days after being in close contact with someone with mumps.

What are the complications of mumps?

Complications of mumps may include:

  • Meningitis
  • Swelling of the testicles (orchitis) or of the ovaries (oophoritis)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hearing loss

If you become infected with the mumps virus during pregnancy while in the first trimester there is an increased risk of spontaneous abortion. There is no evidence to suggest deformities of the fetus during pregnancy.

How do I know if I have Mumps?

Your health care provider may ask you to have a blood test, a swab taken from your throat or inside of your cheek and by testing your urine. Testing of mumps must be done during a specific timeframe and include special arrangements with the lab in order to conduct testing without spreading the disease to others.

What is the treatment for Mumps?

There is no specific treatment for mumps. Symptoms may be relieved by the application of intermittent ice or heat to the affected neck/testicular area and by acetaminophen/paracetamol (Tylenol) for pain relief. Aspirin is not used due to a hypothetical link with Reye's syndrome. Warm salt water gargles, soft foods, and extra fluids may also help relieve symptoms.

It is recommended to avoid fruit juice or any acidic foods, since these stimulate the salivary glands, which can be painful.

How Do I protect myself and others?

You can help stop the spread of mumps by washing your hands after coughing or sneezing, before preparing foods, before eating and after using the washroom. If you do cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth. Do not share cigarettes or drink from the same glass, water bottle or straw as others.

The best way to prevent mumps is to get the mumps vaccine. Mumps vaccine in combination with measles and rubella (MMR) is routinely given soon after a child’s first birthday. A second dose is given as part of a combination vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) at 4-6 years of age. The vaccine is publicly funded (free) in Ontario. Proof of vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella, or a valid exemption is required by law for all children attending school in Ontario.

Is there anything special I need to know about mumps?

Anyone with mumps or suspected mumps will be excluded from school until a full 5 days have passed since the onset of parotitis. People who are not fully immunized against mumps will be excluded from school if a case of mumps is identified in their school. . If you do not have a doctor, call the Vaccine Preventable Team at the health unit for more information.

Are there any special concerns about disease name?

It is important to stay home for 5 days after the onset of parotitis, in order to prevent others from becoming ill as this is the time you are most infectious to other people.

For data on the incidence of Mumps in Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario, please visit the Mumps page on the health unit’s HealthSTATS site

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