Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus and characterized by swelling of the salivary glands.
The first sign of mumps is a light fever that lasts 1 to 2 days. The following symptoms then appear:
It can take 12 to 25 days between exposure to the mumps virus and the onset of symptoms. This is known as the incubation period. You start to become contagious 2 days before the swelling of the salivary glands and can remain contagious for up to 5 days after this. Symptoms last 3 to 10 days. In some cases, mumps can lead to complications.
1 person out of 3 infected with mumps does not have symptoms.
Mumps can be confused with other respiratory infections, such as the common cold.
If you have been into contact with someone with mumps and you have symptoms of the disease, consult your doctor or your CLSC to confirm the diagnosis. If you go to a health-care facility, inform the staff immediately that you have been in contact with someone with mumps. You will be given a mask to prevent you from spreading the disease to other people in the waiting room.
There is no treatment for mumps. Most healthy people recover on their own within 3 to 10 days.
If you have mumps, stay home and:
You can ease your symptoms by taking medication according to instructions.
To relieve your symptoms, you may take over-the-counter medication medicine such as acetaminophen, Tylenol® for example, and ibuprophen, Advil® for example.
If your child is over 3 months old and has a fever, you may give him or her acetaminophen such as Tylenol®, following instructions given and according to your child’s weight.
Avoid giving children and adolescents acetylsalicylic acid such as aspirin. Such medication can lead to a serious disease of the brain and liver known as ‘Reye's Syndrome’ in children and adolescents.
Possible complications of mumps include:
Pregnant women with mumps are at higher risk of a miscarriage at the beginning of their pregnancy. However, mumps are not associated with fetal malformation.
In rare cases, mumps can also lead to:
Complications are more serious and frequent in adults. In some cases, hospitalization is required.
Mumps spreads easily between family members or among children at the same daycare or school.
The virus is spread through:
An infected person can spread mumps even if they do not have symptoms.
Despite not being 100% effective, vaccination is the best way to be protected against mumps. Vaccination reduces the severity of symptoms and complications of mumps. Since the introduction of the free vaccine program in Québec, the number of mumps cases has dropped by nearly 99%.
The mumps vaccine is a combined one, which means that it protects against several diseases. According to the recommended immunization schedule, children can receive the mumps vaccine at the age of 12 months.
Under the Québec Immunisation Program, anyone can get vaccinated against mumps for free.
See the Québec Immunisation Program page to know the procedure for getting vaccinated.
Stay home when your salivary glands begin to swell. You should not go to work or school for up to 5 days from the onset of swelling.
You can also take protective and hygienic measures to help prevent spreading mumps:
Anyone not protected against mumps can catch the disease.
Children younger than 1 are most at risk of getting mumps because they cannot receive the vaccine before 12 months.
However, adults are most at risk of experiencing complications from the disease.
Given that the mumps vaccine is not 100% effective, people who are vaccinated can still get the disease from an infected person. In such cases, the vaccine helps to reduce the severity of the symptoms and the risk of complications.
In Québec, mumps is a reportable disease. When laboratory staff and health professionals detect a case of mumps, they must inform public health authorities.
Last update: January 23, 2017 9:48 AM
The information on this website by no means replaces the advice of a health professional. If you have questions regarding your health, contact Info-Santé 811 or see a health professional.