Caused by the mumps virus, mumps is a contagious disease. The mumps usually begins with a fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite for a few days. This may be followed by swelling of salivary glands. Anyone who has not been vaccinated or who has not previously had the mumps can get the mumps. LSCS students, employees, and guests who have not had the mumps should be vaccinated against this disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) recommend that all students of higher education without a history of mumps receive the vaccine. This vaccine is given as part of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella [German measles] and for children 12 years of age and younger the MMRV vaccine (MMR plus varicella [chickenpox] vaccine) may be given as an alternate. This vaccine and other health care services are available locally free or at a nominal cost from:
Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services Clinics http://www.hcphes.org/dccp/lochrs.htm
- City of Houston Health & Human Services Health Centers
- Public Clinics in the greater Houston Area (Gateway to Care)
Information available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Symptoms of the disease
Individuals first feel sick with symptoms like a low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite and tiredness for a few days. This is later followed by swelling of salivary (parotid) glands just below the ear known as "parotitis". This is a well known sign of mumps. This only occurs in 30-40% of individuals infected with mumps. As many as 20% of persons with mumps have no symptoms of the disease; 40-50% have nonspecific or respiratory symptoms. Laboratory confirmation of the virus is usually needed to confirm diagnosis.
Complications to the central nervous system (meningitis) may occur but rare and generally not serious. Meningitis (with headache and stiff neck), occurs in up to 15% of people with mumps. It can also lead to hearing loss in children, and complications for women who are pregnant. Mumps is usually a mild disease for children; adults may have a more serious disease and more complications.
Currently, there is no specific treatment for mumps. Supportive care (bed rest, fluids, and fever reduction) should be given as needed. If someone becomes very ill, they should seek medical attention. If someone seeks medical attention, they should call their doctor in advance so that they don't have to sit in the waiting room for a long time and possibly infect other patients.
Transmission of the disease
Mumps is contagious. The virus replicates in the upper respiratory tract and is spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions, salvia or through fomites (germs or parasites). An individual with mumps is usually considered most infectious from 1-2 days before and until 5 days after onset of parotitis. It is spread from person to person through the air. It is less contagious than measles or chickenpox. On average signs of mumps will occur after 14-18 days from being exposed, but it could be as long as 14-25 days.
Incidence of mumps
- Mumps is rare in the U.S. due to good immunization coverage.
- Recent outbreaks of mumps have occurred primarily on college campuses.
- Once you have had mumps you do not get it again.
- Persons born before 1957 are generally considered to be immune to mumps.
Risk for college students
Mumps can spread more easily in a college environment, including classrooms, libraries, and other close quarters where students spend a lot of time. This increases the likelihood for those on campus to contract the disease.
The mumps (MMR) vaccine
The mumps vaccine is safe and effective -- approximately 80% of individuals become immune to mumps after a single dose of vaccine. The second dose of MMR vaccine is intended to produce immunity in the remaining 20% of individuals who did not respond to the first dose. By taking the MMR vaccine individuals develop immunity to measles and rubella. The most common side effect is soreness at the site of injection. Generally, doses are recommended as follows:
- First dose (as MMR) for preschool-age children 12 months of age and older and persons born during or after 1957 not at high risk of mumps exposure
- Second dose (as MMR) for school-age children and adults at high risk of mumps exposure (i.e., healthcare personnel, international travelers and students at post-high school educational institutions.
When to Return to School/Work
The CDC and DSHS provide the following general guidelines to determine when one can return to work after developing mumps:
- Individuals who have had the mumps and whether they have received treatment or not, may return 10 days after the onset of symptoms.
For more information
To learn more about mumps and the MMR or MMRV vaccines, please talk with a health care provider or call the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Immunization Branch at 800.252.9152 or 512.458.7284. For general information about mumps, visit the websites of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Review carefully the Mumps(MMR) Vaccine Immunization Statements provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC.