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The disease

  • Mumps is a disease caused by the mumps virus.
  • Mumps was a common childhood disease before immunization.
  • Mumps is spread by coughing, sneezing, close face-to-face contact, or sharing items such as eating utensils or cups.
  • Mumps causes fever, headaches, and swelling of the salivary glands and cheeks.
  • More serious complications include encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
  • Mumps can also cause temporary deafness. Permanent deafness occurs in less than 1 in 20,000 people with mumps.
  • About 1 in 4 adult men and teenage boys with mumps have painful swelling of the testicles and 1 in 20 women and teenage girls have swelling of the ovaries. Both of these conditions are temporary and rarely result in permanent damage or sterility.
  • About 1 in 20 people with mumps get mumps meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain. 

The vaccine

The mumps vaccine is given as the combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine

  • Children are routinely given two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first dose is given at 12 months and the second dose is given at 4-6 years of age. Children 4 - 12 years of age who also need protection against chickenpox (varicella) can get their second dose as the combined Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella (MMRV) vaccine.
  • Older children and teens who have not been immunized should also get two doses of the MMR vaccine.
  • One dose of mumps-containing vaccine is recommended for adults born in 1970 or later who have not had mumps disease (for those who have had mumps disease, prior clinical diagnosis of acute mumps and laboratory confirmation of the same is required). However, students of post-secondary educational settings and travellers to outside of North America need two doses of mumps-containing vaccine.
  • Health care workers, who do not have evidence of immunity to mumps, need one dose of mumps-containing vaccine if born between January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1969 and two doses if born in 1970 or later. 
Date last updated: 
Thursday, Nov 23, 2017
Date last reviewed: 
Wednesday, Nov 01, 2017