What Are The Mumps?
Cases of mumps continue to rise at Indiana University. But what are the mumps, how does it differ from the measles, and should you be concerned?
Mumps Or Measles?
Mumps and measles are two illnesses caused by viruses and are covered by the MMR vaccine. They can lead to serious complications. Both mumps and measles have largely been eradicated in the U.S., though outbreaks can occur.
Both measles and mumps may cause fever, but that is where the similarities end. Measles will develop symptoms such as cold-like symptoms and a rash, while mumps symptoms can include aches, decreased appetite and discomfort in the glands in front of the ears or neck.
What Are Symptoms Of The Mumps?
After you are exposed to the mumps virus, it may take two to three weeks for mumps symptoms to show. Most people with mumps have fever, headache, muscle aches, and decreased appetite. Usually these symptoms last 7 to 10 days.
Other symptoms of the mumps include:
- Discomfort, swelling and/or tenderness in the glands in the front of the neck or in front of the ears
- Problems chewing
- Pain and tenderness of the testicles
Interestingly, 20% of people with mumps have no symptoms at all.
Mumps can be serious, but most people with mumps recover completely within two weeks.
What Are Complications Of Mumps?
Mumps typically occurs in childhood, but complications of mumps happen more often among adults than children. Complications of mumps may include:
- Meningitis or encephalitis - Inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord or inflammation of the brain. This can lead to major problems, such as seizures, stroke or death.
- Orchitis - Inflammation of one or both testicles. This occurs in about 50% of men. Orchitis can lower a man's ability to make sperm and in rare cases can cause sterility.
- Mastitis - Inflammation of breast tissue.
- Parotitis - Inflammation of one or both glands in front of the ears.
- Oophoritis - Inflammation of one or both ovaries. This occurs in about 5% of women and in rare cases, can make it hard for a woman to become pregnant.
- Pancreatitis - Inflammation of the pancreas.
Are Mumps Contagious?
A person with mumps is contagious from 3 days before the start of symptoms to 9 days after the start of symptoms.
Mumps and is spread by droplets of saliva and mucus. The virus can spread during close contact when a person with mumps coughs, sneezes, or even talks. Mumps also can be spread by kissing or sharing eating utensils.
The chance of getting mumps from someone who has mumps depends on how long the contact lasted and how close the contact was.
What If I Was Exposed To The Mumps?
You may have been exposed to mumps if:
- You live in the same household (home, apartment, dorm room) as a person diagnosed with mumps.
- You have had close contact with a person diagnosed with mumps. Examples of such close contact include, kissing or hugging, sharing eating or drinking utensils, close conversation, and direct contact with respiratory secretions or saliva of a person with mumps.
How Is Mumps Treated?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your past health and do a physical exam before diagnosing you with mumps. You may also need tests done on saliva, blood or urine to confirm the diagnosis.
Since mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics cannot cure or treat mumps. Most treatment is geared toward alleviating symptoms, often including plenty of fluids. Bed rest, a soft diet (to reduce pain when chewing) and pain reliever for headaches and muscle aches are often recommended.
Experts advise adults stay home from work for 5 days after glands begin to swell. Children should stay out of school until symptoms have lessened.
Can I Be Vaccinated for the Mumps?
Yes, vaccinations for mumps are part of the MMR vaccine, which also protects against measles and rubella. Usually, the first dose of the MMR vaccine is given when a child is 12 to 15 months old. A second dose is given at 4 to 6 years of age. But if 28 days have passed since the first dose was given, a second dose may be given before the age of 4.
If you never received the MMR vaccine, now is the right time to get two doses of the vaccine. You should get the second dose one month after the first dose. If you have only received one dose of the MMR vaccine, it is a good idea to get a second dose.
If you have received two doses of the MMR vaccine, you can get a third dose, which is referred to as a booster dose, to help protect you. Often this is for people who have had close contact (such as sharing living quarters) with someone who has mumps. Talk with your healthcare provider to see if this is a good fit for you.
Most people born before 1957 had mumps when they were children and are now immune to mumps.
In addition to getting the MMR vaccine, continue to avoid people who are sick, wash your hands regularly with soap and water; and avoid sharing drinks, food and utensils.
What If There Is A Mumps Outbreak Near Me?
According to the CDC, the best things you can do during a mumps outbreak are:
- Make sure you and your family are up-to-date on the MMR vaccine.
- Let your doctor know if you think you or a family member may have mumps.
- Wash hands often with soap and water and disinfect surfaces.