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Revised: January 23, 2015

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What is mumps?

  • Mumps is an acute viral illness.
  • It is most commonly manifested by swelling of one or more of the salivary glands, usually the parotid glands (parotitis).
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What are the symptoms?

  • Painful swelling of one or both salivary glands (located within your cheek, near your jaw line, below your ears)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
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What are the complications?

  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
  • Swelling of the testicles (orchitis)
  • Swelling of the ovaries (oophoritis)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hearing loss
  • Pregnant women who become infected with mumps during the first trimester of pregnancy are at risk of miscarriage.
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How is mumps spread?

  • Mumps is a contagious disease that is spread from person-to person through saliva or droplets from the mouth or nose of an infected person.
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Kissing
  • Sharing items including: food, drinks, cigarettes, water bottles, or musical instruments.
  • Once you come into contact with the mumps virus, it takes from 14-25 days for symptoms to develop (usually 16 to 18 days).
  • A person with mumps is able to spread infection from 7 days before to 5 days after symptoms develop.
  • A person is most contagious in the 1 to 2 days before and 4 days after salivary glands begin to swell.
  • People infected with mumps who do not develop swelling of the salivary glands or other symptoms can spread the virus.
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How can mumps be prevented?

  • The best way to protect yourself against mumps is to receive immunization against mumps.
    • The MMR Vaccine protects against 3 diseases: measles, mumps and rubella.
    • This vaccine is provided free in Ontario as part of the publicly funded routine immunization schedule.
    • The first dose of MMR must be given on or after the first birthday. 
    • The second dose is given as a combined MMR and varicella (chicken pox) vaccine at 4-6 years of age prior to starting school.
    • The MMR vaccine may be administered earlier for children not receiving the varicella vaccine or travelling to an area where measles activity is high.
  • Adults born in 1970 or later without evidence of immunity to mumps should receive 1 dose of MMR.
  • Always practise good hygiene (wash hands well and often)
  • Avoid sharing glasses and utensils
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • Stay home if you are ill.
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What should I do if I think I have mumps?

  • If you have symptoms, please visit your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Call your doctor ahead to let the doctor know that you are coming and you suspect you have mumps. This will allow the doctor to take precautions in the office to protect other patients.
  • To confirm mumps the diagnostic tests required are a buccal and/or a throat swab, blood work and urine collection.
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Is there a treatment?

  • There is no specific treatment for mumps.
  • Hot or cold compresses may relieve the pain in the salivary glands.
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What is Peel Public Health's Role?

  • All cases of mumps are reported to the health department.
  • The health department’s role is to counsel and provide advice to people who are ill with mumps or are contacts of an ill person.
  • The health department also answers questions and concerns in the community.
  • Peel Public Health does not provide routine immunization or catch up doses for the MMR vaccine.
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Where can I get the MMR vaccine?

  • For more information on getting the MMR vaccine, contact your local Walk-In-Clinic (PDF 27 KB) or speak to your doctor.
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For more information

Please call Peel Public Health at (905) 799-7700 or consult your doctor.
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Revised: January 23, 2015

Revised: January 23, 2015


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