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Disease

Mumps

Page last updated on 14 December 2021

Mumps causes swelling of the (parotid) salivary glands on the face, which are found on either side of the mouth and in front of both ears. Prior to widespread vaccination, mumps infection was common in childhood, but when it is contracted by adults it can be more severe.

Vaccination remains one of the most effective ways to prevent mumps. In Australia there are two types of combination mumps vaccines available:

  • Measles, mumps & rubella (MMR)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella & varicella (MMRV)

The vaccination is provided free to children as part of the National Immunisation Program. In addition, it is recommended that any adolescent or adult (born during or since 1966) who was not vaccinated as a child or has not had the illness should also undergo vaccination.

For further information regarding vaccination against mumps, speak with your healthcare professional.

 

Key disease information

What is Mumps?

Mumps is a contagious viral infection.

The mumps virus is spread by coughing or sneezing, and through saliva. Symptoms can include feeling tired, fever, headache and the classic symptom of swollen salivary glands. Rarely, complications of infection may occur.

Mumps was traditionally a common childhood infection. In Australia, the disease is uncommon in children due to routine vaccination. Cases are still reported worldwide, with recent outbreaks in Australia. Most cases of mumps reported in Australia now occur in adolescents and adults.  

Like measles, there is no specific treatment for mumps, but bed rest, fluids, and paracetamol may help. Infected persons should remain isolated to decrease the risk of spreading the virus.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

The most noticeable symptom of mumps is the swelling of the (parotid) salivary glands, which are located in the cheeks and just below the ears.

Other symptoms include: 

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • swelling of the face & glands
  • painful chewing or swallowing

About one-third of people infected with mumps will show no symptoms and may not even know they have the infection.

What does it look like when you have mumps?

Most people with mumps experience experience swelling of one or both of the parotid salivary glands. These glands are found in the cheeks and just below the ears. The swelling of these glands causes tenderness and pain.

Symptoms occur between 1225 days following infection.

Is there a mumps vaccination?

Yes. 

In Australia, immunisation against mumps is provided as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

  • Children at 12 months – the first dose of mumps vaccine is given in combination with measles and rubella (as MMR vaccine)
  • Children at 18 months – the second dose of mumps vaccine is given in combination with measles, rubella and varicella (chickenpox)

Adolescents and adults (born during or after 1966) who do not have evidence of receiving 2 doses of mumps containing vaccine or serological proof of immunity, should talk to their doctor about vaccination against mumps.

For further information regarding vaccination against mumps, speak with your healthcare professional.

How do you get rid of mumps?

There is no specific treatment for mumps. The best protection against the disease is vaccination. 

If you do have symptoms of mumps, contact your GP. They may be able to diagnose you on your symptoms alone, or can request a blood test for confirmation. You may treat your symptoms with bed rest, consistent intake of fluids, and paracetamol.

How long does it take to recover from mumps?

Generally, a case of mumps without complications gets better within two weeks.

Rarely, complications can occur due to the inflammation caused by mumps spreading to other areas of the body. These can include:

  • encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain),
  • hearing loss
  • miscarriage in the first trimester of pregnancy
  • inflammation of the testicles (orchitis), ovaries (oophoritis) or breasts (mastitis)
  • Male sub-fertility and rarely, infertility.

VaccineHub offers general information only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice

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Sources & Citations

  1. NSW Government. Mumps Fact Sheet. Available at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Factsheets/mumps.pdf (accessed 16 November 2021).
  2. Victoria State Government. Better Health Channel. Mumps. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/mumps?viewAsPdf=true (accessed 16 November 2021).
  3. Australian Government, Department of Health. The Australian Immunisation Handbook. Mumps. Available at: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccine-preventable-diseases/mumps (accessed 16 November 2021).
  4. Australian Government, Department of Health. National Immunisation Program Schedule. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-throughout-life/national-immunisation-program-schedule#national-immunisation-program-schedule-from-1-july-2020 (accessed 16 November 2021).
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. 13th ed. Washington D.C. Public Health Foundation, 2015.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mumps. For Healthcare Providers.  Available at https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/hcp.html (accessed 16 November 2021).

MAT-AU-2102446   Date of preparation December 2021

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