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Sunnybrook Academic Family Health Team


As you may have heard, Toronto Public Health (TPH) is reporting cases of mumps in the city. While the majority of mumps cases are still occurring in young adults aged 18-35 years old, cases have now been identified in school-aged children.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended for all adults born in 1970 or later. If an individual is unsure of their vaccination history, a booster dose of MMR can be given.

Children should receive their 4 to 6 year old dose (MMRV) at 4 years of age.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands. It is also referred to as infectious parotitis.

How is it spread?

The mumps virus is found most often in saliva and respiratory droplets. It is spread from person-to person by coming into contact with an infected person’s droplets such as from coughing, sneezing or even talking; or coming into contact with a person’s saliva such as sharing drinks, food, water bottles or kissing.

Who is at risk of getting mumps?

Mumps infection is rare in Toronto, with an average of five cases reported per year from 1997 to 2006. When it does occur it usually infects infants, school-aged children and young adults. There have been a number of recent outbreaks of mumps in Canada primarily among young adults between 20 an 25 years of age.

Most adults born before 1970 have been infected with mumps and are probably immune.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Common symptoms include: swelling and pain in one or more salivary glands (sides of the cheeks and jaw), fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, fatigue and loss of appetite. One out of three people who are infected with mumps have symptoms of a cold but no salivary gland swelling. Less common symptoms may include swollen and tender testicles in males. These symptoms can last up to ten days.

What are the complications associated with mumps?

Complications of mumps infection include encephalitis (infection in the brain), meningitis (infection in the lining of the brain), painful swelling of the testicles (orchitis) or the ovaries (oophoritis), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or deafness. Pregnant women who become infected with mumps during the first three months of pregnancy are at risk of miscarriage.

How soon do symptoms appear?

Mumps symptoms begin 12 to 25 days after exposure.

What is the treatment for mumps?

There is no treatment for mumps. A virus causes mumps, therefore antibiotics are not given. Some medications can be given to relieve some of the symptoms.

When and for how long is a person able to spread mumps?

A person is able to spread mumps from seven days before any symptoms appear until five days after salivary glands begin swelling. A person is most contagious in the one to two days before and up to four days after the salivary glands begin to swell.