What is Mumps?

Mumps is a contagious viral illness that occurs worldwide. The virus is spread by contact with saliva respiratory tract (mouth and nose) droplets of a sick person. Mumps is preventable. Click here for more information on how people catch the disease and the vaccine that helps prevent it.

The number of people infected by the disease in the US has decreased dramatically with the introduction of the vaccine. Before the US mumps vaccination program started in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year. In 2018, the number of mumps cases dropped to about 2,250 across the US.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms typically begin 14-18 days after exposure to the virus. Many people feel tired and achy, have a fever, and swollen salivary glands on the side of the face, usually below and in front of the ear.

However, about one-third of those infected do not experience salivary gland swelling.

How are mumps treated?

Mumps is caused by a virus, so antibiotics will not help.

Most people recover completely on their own. The best treatment is supportive treatment, which includes rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking over-the-counter medications to treat the fever and headache.

How do people catch this disease?

The virus is spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing.

What can be done to stop the spread of this disease?

The mumps vaccine is a part of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination.Two doses of MMR are recommended: The first dose is about 78% effective against mumps; two-dose vaccine effectiveness is 88%.

MMR vaccine prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps and complications caused by the disease. People who have received two doses of the MMR vaccine are about nine times less likely to get mumps than unvaccinated people who have the same exposure to mumps virus.

Please take the below steps to help prevent the spread of mumps:

  • Wash hands frequently and efficiently. When unable to wash with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; use your upper sleeve to cover your cough, not your hand.
  • Avoid sharing food, drinks, and items such as eating utensils, cigarettes or vaping devices.
  • Avoid participating in any activities that may result in saliva exposure.


The MMR vaccine series is required to attend school and day care in South Carolina.


Infectious Diseases Viruses