Mumps is a viral infection that used to be very common among U.S. infants, children and young adults. During the 20th century, widespread adoption and implementation of a vaccine for mumps all but eradicated the illness from the United States, and today mumps is very rare. In fact, by 2005, the use of vaccines had reduced the occurrence of the disease in the country by 99 percent.
Without vaccination, mumps is highly contagious via mucus or saliva and is easily transmitted through sneezing, coughing, talking and sharing food, dishes and utensils. It’s still common in many parts of the world so it’s a concern to be aware of, particularly if for anyone who hasn't been vaccinated against the mumps virus.
Symptoms of Mumps
Common symptoms of the mumps include fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, headaches and muscle aches and swelling of the salivary glands. In some instances, complications can arise, such as inflammation in the ovaries, testicles or brain as well as deafness that can be temporary or permanent.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the mumps. Most children receive the vaccine between the ages of 12 and 15 months, and a second dose between the ages of 4 and 6. Being vaccinated is particularly important for anyone traveling abroad because of the risk for exposure to the virus.
Since mumps is a viral infection, antibiotics cannot be used to treat it. Symptoms, however, can be treated with over-the-counter medicines and supportive care. But, anyone who develops the mumps should see a doctor to be monitored for complications and to be given prescription medication if needed.
SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention