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What causes mumps?

Mumps is caused by a virus.

How does mumps spread?

Mumps spreads from person to person through the air. It is less contagious than measles or chickenpox.

How long does it take to show signs of mumps after being exposed?

The incubation period of mumps is 14-18 days, but can range from 14-25 days.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Individuals with mumps usually first feel sick with such nonspecific symptoms as headache, loss of appetite, and low-grade fever.

The most well-known sign of mumps is "parotitis," the swelling of the salivary glands, or parotid glands, below the ear. Parotitis occurs only in 30%-40% of individuals infected with mumps.

Up to 20% of persons with mumps have no symptoms of disease, and another 40%-50% have only nonspecific or respiratory symptoms.

How serious is mumps?

In children, mumps is usually a mild disease. Adults may have more serious disease and more complications.

What are possible complications from mumps?

Central nervous system involvement (meningitis) is common, but is usually not serious. Meningitis (with headache, stiff neck) occurs in up to 15% of people with mumps, but usually resolves without any permanent damage. Up to 50% of postpubertal males experience "orchitis," or testicular inflammation, as a complication of mumps. This may involve pain, swelling, nausea, vomiting, and fever, with tenderness of the area possibly lasting for weeks. Sterility is a rare complication, however.

An increase in spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) has been found among women who developed mumps during the first trimester of pregnancy; however, there is no evidence that mumps causes birth defects. Deafness, in one or both ears, can occur in approximately one per 20,000 reported cases of mumps.

Is there a treatment for mumps?

There is no "cure" for mumps, only supportive treatment (bed rest, fluids, and fever reduction).

    Public Health
    608 N. Court St.
    Suite A
    Carroll, IA 51401

    Suite A is located in the alley between Court St. and Clark St. behind United Bank of Iowa.

    Phone: 712-775-2660

    Fax: 712-792-0254

    [email protected]


    Office Hours:
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    8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Megan Owen-LPN
    Carey Kersey-MS, LPN

    Public Health Directors