Mumps

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Overview

Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects saliva-producing (salivary) glands that are located near your ears. Mumps can cause swelling in one or both of these glands. Mumps was common in the United States until mumps vaccination became routine. Since then, the number of cases has dropped dramatically.

Symptoms

Pain in the swollen salivary glands on one or both sides of your face.

Pain while chewing or swallowing.

Fever.

Headache.

Muscle aches.

Weakness and fatigue.

Loss of appetite.

Causes

Mumps is caused by the mumps virus, which belongs to a family of viruses known as paramyxoviruses. These viruses are a common source of infection, particularly in children.

When you get mumps, the virus moves from your respiratory tract (your nose, mouth and throat) into your parotid glands (saliva-producing glands found either side of your face), where it begins to reproduce. This causes the glands to swell.

The virus can also enter your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is the fluid that surrounds and protects your brain and spine. Once the virus has entered the CSF, it can spread to other parts of your body, such as your brain, pancreas, testicles (in boys and men) and ovaries (in girls and women).

Risk factors

Living or traveling to places where mumps are common.

Being exposed to someone with mumps.

Being in crowded settings, such as a college dormitory.

No history of mumps immunization.

Having a weakened immune system, even if a person has been vaccinated.

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Complications

Meningitis or encephalitis. Inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord or inflammation of the brain.

Orchitis. Inflammation of one or both testicles.

Mastitis. Inflammation of breast tissue.

Parotitis. ...

Oophoritis. ...

Pancreatitis. ...

Deafness.

Prevention

Mumps is a highly preventable disease because of the effectiveness of the MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine. Children are usually vaccinated against mumps between 12 and 15 months of age and then again between the ages of 4 and 6.

Mumps is considered a rare disease, with only a few hundred cases each year in the United States. Still, outbreaks occur in the United States on a regular basis, especially in places where there is close human contact, such as schools and dormitories. Therefore, it is important that your child be vaccinated to reduce his or her risk of contracting the disease.