Mumps Home > Mumps Prevention

The best mumps prevention method is the mumps vaccine. However, because this is not 100 percent effective, other techniques are used to prevent the spread of the disease as well. Suggestions for mumps prevention include avoiding people with known symptoms, washing the hands frequently, and, if you have mumps, avoiding places where you can come into contact with many people.

Mumps Prevention: An Overview

Prior to the mumps vaccine being licensed in 1967, 100,000 to 200,000 cases are estimated to have occurred in the United States each year. Cases of mumps declined to approximately 5,000 cases per year during the period from 1980 to 1990. Fewer than 300 cases were reported in 2003.
This reduction in cases is due primarily to the mumps vaccine. Other than the vaccine, other mumps prevention suggestions include:
  • Wash hands well and often with soap, and teach children to wash their hands, too
  • Don't share eating utensils or beverage containers
  • 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 mumps symptoms.

Mumps Prevention Through the Mumps Vaccine

Mumps prevention begins with the mumps vaccine. The vaccine contains live, attenuated (weakened) mumps virus. In the United States, the vaccine is licensed and available as a single preparation (Mumpsvax®) or combined with both live attenuated measles and rubella vaccine (MMR vaccine, also known as measles, mumps, rubella vaccine). Typically, mumps vaccine in the United States is administered as the MMR vaccine.
Data from mumps outbreak investigations have shown that the effectiveness of MMR against mumps is approximately 80 percent after one dose, and limited data suggests effectiveness of approximately 90 percent after two doses. Since the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, some cases can occur in vaccinated persons. The vaccine has not been demonstrated to be effective in mumps prevention after exposure; however, it can be administered post-exposure to provide protection against subsequent exposures.
The most common adverse reactions to mumps vaccine are parotitis (swelling of the parotid gland) and low-grade fever.
(Click Mumps Vaccine or MMR Vaccine for more information on vaccines used in mumps prevention.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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