Mumps Home > Adult Mumps

As with children, adult mumps is caused by a virus, which is contagious. The most characteristic symptom is swelling of the salivary glands. Treatment for the disease involves managing the symptoms while the body fights the infection. Most people recover without any problems, although there are a few complications that can occur as a result of adult mumps, such as deafness or pancreatitis.

Adult Mumps: An Overview

Mumps is a contagious illness caused by a virus that can result in fever and swelling of the neck. Infections are most common during spring, especially April and May. Mumps is considered less contagious than both measles and chickenpox.
Mumps appears to be happening more in adults, with approximately 40 percent of mumps virus infections occurring in this group. Even so, mumps epidemics are relatively uncommon.

Cause of Adult Mumps

Adult mumps is caused by an infection with the mumps virus, which is found worldwide. The mumps virus is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus from the family Paramyxovirus of the genus Rubulavirus. The mumps virus only infects humans.

Transmission of Adult Mumps

The spread of adult mumps is similar to that for children. The mumps virus resides in the mucus in the nose and throat of the infected person, along with the saliva. When that person sneezes or coughs, droplets spray into the air. The infected mucus can land in other people's noses or throats when they breathe or put their fingers in their mouth, nose, or eyes after touching an infected surface.
(Click Mumps Transmission for more information.)

Incubation Period for Adult Mumps

When an adult becomes infected with the mumps virus, the virus begins to multiply within the nose, throat, and lymph glands in the neck. The virus can also enter the blood and spread to other parts of the body. After 16 to 18 days, on average, mumps symptoms can appear. This period between mumps transmission and the start of symptoms is known as the "incubation period for mumps." In some cases, the incubation period can be as early as 12 days or as late as 25 days.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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