Mumps is a contagious viral illness that is largely preventable using the MMR vaccine. There has been a recent rise in the number of cases of mumps particulalrly in north-east England. Mumps is usually seen in school aged children and young adults typically in late winter to early spring. Transmission is by respiratory droplet (eg sneezing & coughing) & direct contact.

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness & poor appetite before the onset of parotitis (inflammation of the parotid glands which are located in front of the ears) and salivary gland swelling which results in the typical appearance seen in this condition.

Patients with mumps are infectious from 3 days before to 9 days after the onset of symptoms & the incubation period is usually 16 to 18 days but can be upto 25 days.

Complications of mumps infection include inflammation of the testes, meningitis, encephalitis,pancreatitis and deafness.

The inflammation of the testes (orchitis) can result in infertility and 5% of girls can get inflammation of the fallopian tubes.

Diagnosis can be made using the symptoms that the patient presents with but there are also laboratory tests that can be done to confirm the diagnosis. This includes blood tests and cheek swabs.

There is no specific treatment for mumps. The use of good pain relief, anti-inflammatory drugs and cold packs will help.

Pregnancy – There is no evidence of an association of congenital problems in mothers infected with the mumps virus during pregnancy.

Authored by: Dr Tim Ubhi

Published: 8th March 2019

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