Frequently Asked Questions About Mumps

Dr. Mike Green, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Children’s Hospital
  Q&A with Michael Green, MD, MPH
Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Q: How likely are individuals who receive a booster and/or vaccination to contract the mumps – is that rare?
A: After two doses of vaccines, the range of effectiveness is typically 80 to 90 percent. A very small percentage of patients, about 5 to 10 percent, will not respond to the vaccine, but the vast majority will. In some cases, the vaccine's effectiveness will wane over time.

Q: What are the symptoms of mumps?
A: Mumps is characterized by painful swelling of one or more of the salivary glands, usually the parotid glands. Other symptoms can include fatigue, headache, fever, muscle ache, loss of appetite, and pain while chewing or swallowing. About one-third of infections do not cause salivary gland swelling or may manifest as a respiratory tract infection.

Q: Is mumps the only cause of swelling of the parotid (salivary) glands?
A: Swelling of the parotid glands can be due to several other viruses, including influenza A, parainfluenza types 1 and 2, Epstein-Barr, enteroviruses, as well as others.

Q: How are the mumps spread?
A: The mumps are spread by droplet contact with a person who is infected and contagious. A person must be in close contract with the infected individual, about three to six feet, and must come into contact with secretions, such as through coughing or sneezing. Walking past someone in the hallway is not an exposure. Shaking someone’s hand after he or she has coughed into it would be an exposure.

Q: How long is someone infectious with the mumps?
A: Individuals are infectious 48 hours prior to illness and five days after the onset of the mumps.

We feel strongly that all children should be immunized to prevent exposure to an infectious disease like the mumps or the measles. In order to keep these diseases at bay, it’s important for children to have all their recommended vaccinations, on schedule. And it’s important for adults to get booster shots when recommended, too. Immunizations protect us all.