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Mumps is a disease that is caused by an infection of with a virus. It is contagious, and is often transmitted by sneezing or coughing. Symptoms include fever, chills, and the characteristic swelling of the salivary glands, which are located near the jawline. Treatment for mumps involves managing the symptoms while the body fights the infection. Most people recover without any long-term effects.

What Is Mumps?

Mumps is a contagious illness caused by a virus that can result in fever and swelling of the neck. During the prevaccine era, nearly everyone in the United States experienced it, and 90 percent of cases occurred among children under 15 years of age. Today, there are fewer than a thousand cases each year in the United States.

What Causes Mumps?

The mumps cause is an infection with the mumps virus. This virus is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus from the family Paramyxovirus of the genus Rubulavirus. The virus only infects humans, and it is found worldwide.

How Is the Virus Transmitted?

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 handling an infected surface.
(Click Mumps Transmission for more information.)

Incubation Period

When a person becomes infected with the mumps virus, it 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, symptoms can appear. This period between transmission and the start of symptoms is 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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Mumps Information

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