John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Mumps facts
- What is mumps?
- What is the history of mumps?
- What causes mumps? How is mumps transmitted?
- What are risk factors for contracting mumps?
- What are the signs and symptoms of mumps in children and adults?
- How is mumps diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for mumps in adults and in children?
- What are complications of mumps?
- Can mumps be prevented? Is there a vaccine for mumps?
- What is the prognosis of a mumps infection?
- Where can people find more information on mumps?
What is mumps?
Mumps is a viral infection transmitted by and affecting only humans. While the salivary glands (especially the parotid gland) are well known to be involved during a mumps infection, many other organ systems may also experience effects of the virus infection. There is no cure for mumps, but the illness is of short duration (seven to 10 days) and resolves spontaneously. Prior to the introduction of mumps vaccination, the highest rate of new cases of mumps was reported in the late winter to early spring.
What is the history of mumps?
Medical historians believe that documentation of a clinical illness consistent with mumps dates back to Greco-Roman times. The first effective vaccine against mumps was introduced in 1948 and used from 1950-1978. Unfortunately, this vaccine strain had limited long-term immune memory effectiveness. The current strain used in the United States and worldwide provides over 80% long-term immunity. The current childhood mumps immunization schedule recommends vaccination at 1 and 4 years of age. The mumps vaccine is commonly administered as part of a combination vaccine (MMR) also providing protection against measles and rubella (German measles).
What causes mumps? How is mumps transmitted?
Mumps virus is a single strand of RNA housed inside a two-layered envelope that provides the virus its characteristic immune signature. Only one type of mumps virus has been demonstrated to exist (in contrast to the many virus types that can cause the common cold).
Mumps is highly contagious and has a rapid spread among members living in close quarters. The virus most commonly is spread directly from one person to another via respiratory droplets. Less frequently, the respiratory droplets may land on fomites (sheets, pillows, clothing) and then be transmitted via hand-to-mouth contact after touching such items. The incubation period from exposure to the virus and onset of symptoms is approximately 14-18 days. Viral shedding is short lived and a patient should be isolated from other susceptible individuals for the first five days following the onset of swelling of the salivary (parotid) glands.
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