What is it

Mumps is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It is easily transmitted from person to person and can cause symptoms that typically last 7 to 10 days.1  Before the vaccine was introduced, the disease was very common, especially among children.2

Who is at risk

Anyone who has not been fully vaccinated or has not previously had mumps may catch the disease.3 
Mumps remains a common disease in many countries. Anyone who is not protected against mumps is at risk of getting infected when they travel internationally.3 

  • Travellers to places outside North America
  • Secondary and post-secondary students in an educational setting
  • Health care personnel
  • Military personnel in close contact with someone who has mumps

What are the symptoms

Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and tender, swollen jaw that it causes. This is a result of swollen salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides, often referred to as parotitis.3

Other symptoms that might begin a few days before parotitis include:3

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite

Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12–25 days after infection.3

Some people who get mumps have very mild symptoms (like a cold), or no symptoms at all and may not know they have the disease.
In rare cases, mumps can cause more severe complications, especially in adults.
Most people with mumps recover completely within two weeks.3

How is it spread

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, nose, or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by:3

  • coughing, sneezing, or talking
  • sharing items that may have saliva on them, such as water bottles or cups
  • participating in close-contact activities with others, such as playing sports, dancing, or kissing
  • touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others

 The mumps virus can be passed on to others even before you know you are infected. Typically an individual is most contagious 2 days prior to the appearance of symptoms up to 5 days after they appear.3

How is it prevented

Vaccination against the virus is the most effective means available to prevent the disease.4

The Ministry of Health in Israel recommends that children aged 12 months and over, and anyone born from 1957 onwards receive two doses of the vaccine.4
 The mumps vaccine is part of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) immunization.4 These combination vaccinations are given to children at 12 months of age, and again at 1st grade of school.

The mumps vaccine is safe well tolerated, and effective. Side effects of the vaccination are typically very mild and tend to go away within a few days.4
For those planning to travel abroad, visit your healthcare provider at least 6 weeks before you leave to discuss if the mumps vaccine is appropriate for you and your children.5

How is it treated

Most mumps infection tend to be mild in nature, your healthcare provider typically will let it run its course. Antibiotics will not treat the infection as mumps is caused by a virus rather than bacteria.6

If you develop mumps symptoms, stay home from work or school for at least the first 5 days after the swelling starts to avoid spreading the infection to others. You may also limit the spread by:6

  • Avoiding close contact with other household members
  • Avoiding sharing of drinking glasses or utensils
  • Covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your forearm
  • Practice hand hygiene

Medical advice is recommended for the onset of symptoms. For further information regarding mumps and immunization, please speak with your healthcare provider.


  1. Public Health Agency of Canada. Mumps.
  2. Ministry of Health Israel. Disease. Mumps.
  3. Center for disease Control and Prevention. Mumps.
  4. Ministry of Health Israel. Vaccines. Mumps.
  5. Ministry of Health Israel. Vaccination abroad.
  6. Public Health Agency of Canada. Mumps Treatment.