Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. An outbreak is considered three confirmed cases and can occur at any time of the year, but often occur in the winter and spring.

Mumps can occur at any time of the year, so please educate yourself about mumps by reading the information below.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of mumps may include:

  • Swelling and tenderness in front of and below one or both ears and along the jaw
  • Pain along the jaw and in front of and below one or both ears
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite

Most people recover completely in a few weeks. People who do not have swelling may still spread the virus to others.

What if I have symptoms?

If you experience symptoms, isolate yourself and seek medical attention by calling your provider.

  • IU Bloomington: Call the IU Health Center at 812-855-4011. If after hours, you will be connected with an on-call nurse. If not a student, call your healthcare provider.
  • IUPUI: Call IUPUI Campus Health at 317-274-8214 or 317-274-2274 to schedule an appointment.
  • Regional campuses: Contact your healthcare provider to make an appointment.

How is mumps spread?

Mumps is spread through indirect or direct contact with an infected person’s nose or throat droplets.

  • It can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes or shares drinks or eating utensils.
  • People with mumps can spread it for up to 2 days before and 5 days after the start of symptoms. Anyone with mumps should stay home during that time to prevent giving the illness to others.
  • Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection.

How can mumps be prevented?

The MMR vaccine is safe and prevents mumps at the rate of 88 percent on average after two doses.

If you have not had mumps and have no record of getting the vaccine, your healthcare provider can give you the vaccine or order a blood test to check for immunity.

See IU's policy

A third dose of MMR?

Some people may be recommended to acquire a third dose of the MMR vaccine during an outbreak if they are a close contact of a confirmed case or under-immunized. In 2018, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that, in the setting of a mumps outbreak, individuals who have been previously vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine receive a third dose of mumps virus-containing vaccine.

Other ways to stay healthy and prevent spreading the illness

  • Check your immunization records to ensure that you’ve had two doses of MMR
  • Practice good hygiene habits: Wash your hands regularly with soap and water; sneeze and cough into a tissue or your elbow; and avoid sharing drinks, food, and utensils.
  • Avoid sick people
  • Take precautions in crowds: Mumps is particularly contagious in crowded, close quarters, so public health officials urge students and employees to take precautions while socializing, studying, or participating in other activities that occur in such conditions.

How is it treated?

Since mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics cannot cure or treat mumps. Most treatment is to alleviate symptoms. Bed rest, a soft diet to reduce pain when chewing, and pain and fever relievers are often recommended.

Complications of mumps are rare but may include orchitis (painful swelling of the testicles), meningitis (in 1-10 percent of cases), encephalitis (swelling of the brain; less than 1 percent of cases), and/or hearing loss (very rare). There may be an increased risk of miscarriage with mumps in the first trimester.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who has not had two doses of mumps vaccine (usually via the MMR or measles-mumps-rubella vaccine) is at risk for mumps. Even those who have had two MMR vaccines can get mumps because the vaccine does not produce 100 percent immunity.

Another risk for getting mumps is being on a college campus during a mumps outbreak (three or more confirmed cases). The risk is greatest for international travelers or people who are in contact with international travelers.