Mumps is a usually mild disease, which can affect children and adults. However, in around 20 to 30% of affected men, a painful testicular swelling can occur. For routine immunisation, 2 doses of an MMR vaccine are recommended for all infants.
Pathogen and transmission
Mumps is caused by mumps virus and usually shows a relatively harmless course in children and adults. The disease is transmitted by air-borne droplets from coughing and sneezing as well as through contact with the saliva of a person with the disease. People are usually already contagious two days before the occurrence of the first symptoms, and up to and including nine days afterwards.
On average, 14‒24 days after infection, the first general symptoms occur, such as a mild increase in temperature, feeling unwell or headache. After 1‒2 days in many cases, painful swelling of the parotid glands occurs on one side, and often later on both sides. One of the most common complications in childhood is meningitis, which usually heals without long-term effects. After puberty, around 20 to 30% of men with the disease have unilateral testicular inflammation which only rarely causes complete sterility. In 5% of women with the disease following puberty, mumps leads to an inflammation of the ovaries which usually does not lead to sterility neither. The risk of miscarriage is increased during the first three months of pregnancy, but mumps does not lead to malformations of the child. Mumps can also very rarely lead to complete deafness at any age. There is no specific therapy against the virus, only some symptoms might be relieved.
Prevalence and frequency
Mumps occurs around the world. Before the vaccination was recommended, most children were infected with mumps. In recent years, fewer than 1000 cases per year were observed in Switzerland.
There is a vaccination against mumps which is combined with those against rubella and measles (MMR vaccine). A first dose is recommended at the age of 9 months, a second dose at the age of 12 months. Since 2023, the MMR vaccination is recommended preferably in combination with that against chickenpox, i.e. varicella (MMRV). The reason for the vaccination against the three diseases measles, mumps, rubella is to prevent their sometimes very severe complications. Vaccination against chickenpox also reduces the risk of contracting shingles (herpes zoster) later in life. The vaccination with two doses usually provides life-long protection from the disease.
Last modification 17.03.2023
Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Division Communicable diseases
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