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Mumps in Children

How Mumps in Children Is Spread

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 children's noses or throats when they breathe or put their fingers in their mouth, nose, or eyes after handling an infected surface.
(Click Mumps Transmission for more information.)

Incubation Period for Mumps in Children

When a child 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 of mumps in children 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.

Symptoms of Mumps in Children

Symptoms of mumps in children can include:
  • Swelling of the parotid salivary glands, which are located within your cheek, near your jawline, and below your ears
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Chills.
About 20 percent of children infected with mumps do not develop symptoms. It is also thought that up to half of children infected with the mumps virus do not develop the classic mumps symptoms, instead developing upper respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold.
(Click Pictures of Mumps to see examples of salivary gland swelling or click Mumps Symptoms for more information on symptoms associated with the disease.)
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