Facts about Mumps for Adults

What is Mumps? 
Mumps is an acute viral disease that is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing. Some people may have no symptoms or very mild symptoms but they can still pass the virus on to others.

Symptoms
The symptoms of mumps include a low grade fever and swelling or tenderness of one or more of the salivary glands in the cheeks and under the jaw. In males who have gone through puberty, up to 30 percent may experience testicular pain and swelling. 

Symptoms usually appear between 12 and 25 days after a person has been exposed to the mumps virus. As many as 30 to 40 percent of infected people will not have symptoms and nearly 50 percent will have non-specific or mostly respiratory symptoms, with or without infection in the salivary glands.

Prevention
There is a vaccine to protect against mumps. The vaccine is given as part of a combination vaccine, called the MMR vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Which adults should get vaccinated against mumps with MMR vaccine?

  • Adults born in 1957 or later including non-pregnant women of childbearing age who do not have a medical contraindication should receive at least one dose of the MMR vaccine, unless they can document that they have received at least one dose of mumps-containing vaccine or have other acceptable evidence of immunity to the disease.
  • College and university students, healthcare personnel, and international travelers are at increased risk for mumps, and should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine or have other acceptable evidence of immunity to ensure adequate protection.

Vaccine safety
The MMR vaccine is very safe and highly effective with few side effects. Mild reactions such as fever, redness, or swelling at the injection site have been reported. Adult women may infrequently have joint symptoms like pain and stiffness from the rubella part of the vaccine. 

As with any medicine, there are very small risks that serious problems could occur after getting the vaccine. However, the potential risks associated with measles, mumps, and rubella are much greater than the potential risks associated with the vaccine. MMR vaccine should not be given to persons who are pregnant or severely immunosuppressed. 

Disease and vaccine facts
  • FACT: Mumps can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.
  • FACT: Mumps is most contagious from one to two days before to five days after the onset of infection in the salivary glands (parotitis).
  • FACT: About two to three out of every 10 adolescent or adult men who have mumps may experience painful swelling of the testicles. Sterility rarely occurs.
  • FACT: Rare complications caused by mumps include infection of the brain (encephalitis) and inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Other rare complications include arthritis, kidney and pancreas problems, deafness, and inflammation of the ovaries.
  • FACT: Approximately two-fifths of infected people do not have symptoms of mumps.
  • FACT: In 2006 and 2009-2010, the US experienced large mumps outbreaks. The majority of the cases were among people age 18 to 24 years (2006 outbreak) and nine to 17 years (2009-2010)

January 2012

For more information, speak with your healthcare professional or visit www.Adultvaccination.org.