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There is currently no treatment for mumps that can kill the virus. Because the disease is caused by a virus, antibiotics or other medications are not effective. Therefore, treatment focuses on providing relief from symptoms as the body fights the virus. This is called supportive care.
Most people recover from mumps without any long-term problems. In rare cases, however, problems can result, including deafness.
There are also a number of possible complications that can occur as a result of mumps. Some of these complications can occur with symptoms of mumps. In other cases, these complications may develop without symptoms.
Complications of mumps can include:
- Inflammation of the testes (orchitis)
- Inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis)
- Inflammation of the ovaries and/or breasts (oophoritis and mastitis)
- Spontaneous abortion, particularly in early pregnancy (miscarriage)
- Deafness, usually permanent
Prior to a vaccine being licensed in 1967, 100,000 to 200,000 mumps cases are estimated to have occurred in the United States each year. By way of contrast, fewer than 300 cases were reported in 2003.
The reduction in cases is due to the mumps vaccine. Additional mumps prevention suggestions include:
- Wash hands well and often with soap, and teach children to wash their hands, too
- Don't share eating utensils
- Surfaces that are frequently touched (toys, doorknobs, tables, counters, etc.) should also be regularly cleaned with soap and water or with cleaning wipes
- Limit your contact with people who have known symptoms of the disease.