Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. An outbreak of mumps can occur any time of the year but often occur in the winter and spring.
Symptoms include fever, head and muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite. The most well-known symptom is swelling and tenderness of the salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides. Some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and often they do not know they have the disease.
Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that it causes. This is a result of swollen salivary glands.
It spreads through saliva or mucus from the mouth nose or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, sharing cups or utensils with others, and touching objects without washing hands. The virus can be spread before the infected person experiences symptoms.
A major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team, or living in a dormitory with a person who has mumps.
Mumps can be prevented by receiving the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and avoiding ill persons. Also, you are considered immune to mumps if you have previously had the infection.
Because mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not an effective course of treatment and most treatment is geared toward alleviating symptoms. Fortunately, most children and adults recover from uncomplicated cases of mumps within about two weeks. As a general rule, you are not considered contagious one week after diagnosis.