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What is mumps?

Mumps is an illness caused by infection with the mumps virus.

Since introduction of the childhood immunisation program against mumps in the 1980s, this disease is rarely seen in Tasmania.

What are the symptoms?

About one third of people will have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

When present, symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • swelling and tenderness of the sides of the face and/or along the jaw line. This swelling may be on one side of the face only

  • painful chewing and/or swallowing.

Complications of mumps are more common in adolescents and adults and may include meningitis (inflammation of the meninges that line the brain), encephalitis (brain inflammation), pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation), orchitis (testicle inflammation), oophoritis (ovary inflammation) and nerve deafness.

A person who has been in contact with someone with mumps may become unwell between 12 to 25 days after exposure.

How is it spread?

Mumps is spread by inhaling or swallowing the droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Mumps may also be spread through contact with hands, tissues or other items that have been used when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

A person with mumps is infectious from seven days before swelling of the glands begins to up to nine days after the onset of swelling. However, a person with mumps is most infectious from two days before the onset of swelling to five days afterwards.

How is it diagnosed?

If a doctor thinks you may have mumps, samples from blood, urine or from inside the mouth should be collected to confirm the disease.

How is it treated?

There is no specific treatment for mumps.  Care involves:

  • rest
  • fluids
  • Paracetamol to reduce fever and discomfort
  • cold compresses held against the swollen glands to reduce discomfort
  • observation for complications.

How is it prevented?

Immunisation is the best way to prevent mumps and potential serious complications. People most at risk are those who have not had two mumps-containing vaccines.

Mumps may be prevented by two types of combined vaccine: the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (chickenpox) (MMRV) vaccine.

A person with mumps should stay home from childcare, school or work for nine days after the onset of swelling or until the swelling goes down (whichever is sooner).T

issues and other objects soiled with droplets from the nose and throat should be discarded and surfaces disinfected.

Who should get immunised?

Two doses of the mumps-containing vaccine are recommended and provided free-of-charge to children at 12 and 18 months of age.

The mumps-containing vaccines are safe and effective vaccines that have been used worldwide for many years.  It is safe to have the MMR vaccine even if you have had mumps vaccination or even mumps before.

Two doses of mumps-containing vaccine are recommended for all non-immune adolescents and adults. Immunisation is available through GPs and some local councils.

What should I do if I have had contact with someone who has mumps?

Individuals who have not received two doses of mumps-containing should see their GP to arrange to be vaccinated.

Seek medical help if you develop symptoms of mumps.

What should I do if I have mumps?

Individuals with mumps should remain home from work, school or childcare until nine days after the onset of facial swelling or once symptoms have resolved (whichever is sooner).

Individuals with mumps should ensure that they stay away from susceptible individuals, including young children and others who may not have been vaccinated.

Ensure you regularly wash your hands and dispose any items that may be soiled with saliva or secretions from the nose and throat, such as dirty tissues.

Most cases of mumps get better within two weeks.

A person with mumps should seek medical review if:

  • they appear to be getting sicker
  • have pain anywhere other than the face, this could be a sign of inflammation of another organ
  • they have a high fever

  • they are concerned.

Call the Public Health Hotline – Tasmania on 1800 671 738 to speak to a clinical nurse consultant.

26 September 2016