Information updated June 2017
Mumps is a vaccine preventable disease that is no longer common in Saskatchewan or Canada. Since 2012, maximum two sporadic cases have occurred each year in Saskatchewan, which are typically imported from endemic countries or areas experiencing an outbreak.
Mumps was a common childhood illness before vaccine became available in the 1970s. People born before 1970 are likely to be immune from natural infection.
Number of mumps cases provincially
*as of June 9, 2017. Please note that 2016 and 2017 numbers are preliminary and subject to change.
How mumps spreads
Mumps is an infection caused by a virus. The virus is spread between people through saliva and respiratory droplets in the air formed when coughing or sneezing. Touching an item that was previously touched by an infected person and then touching your eyes or mouth can spread mumps.
Kissing or sharing eating utensils, water bottles, drinks, lipsticks, cigarettes and other smoking paraphernalia increases the risk of spreading the virus.
Mumps spreads more easily in crowded environments and where close contact with others commonly occurs such as classrooms, sporting events, bars, and dormitory living.
People infected with mumps can spread the virus to others from 7 days before they developed any symptoms to 5 days after the salivary glands became swollen.
Signs and symptoms of mumps
Symptoms occur 14 to 25 days following exposure. Symptoms may be mild and include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite.
People with mumps typically have swelling of the cheeks, jawline and neck due to swollen salivary glands. Swelling can occur on one or both sides of the face or neck.
Up to 30% of people infected with mumps have no symptoms but can still spread the virus to others.
Complications of mumps
Mumps may cause meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) which may lead to permanent brain damage.
Permanent deafness occurs in less than 5 in 100,000 cases.
About 3 in 10 males (after puberty) develop swollen testicles. About 1 in 20 females (after puberty) develop swollen ovaries. Infertility from mumps is very rare.
Most people who get mumps recover completely in a few weeks.
How mumps is diagnosed
Your health care provider will diagnose mumps from your clinical signs and symptoms. Mumps is confirmed through laboratory testing of urine, blood or a throat swab.
How mumps is treated
There is no specific treatment. Since mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics cannot be used to treat the infection.
- Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and eat healthy foods.
- Take acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol, Tempra) as per instructions on container for fever or pain.
- Do NOT take any medication with ASA (e.g. aspirin) if you are under age 20 because of the risk of Reye's syndrome – a serious condition that causes swelling of the liver and brain.
How mumps can be prevented
The single most important way to prevent mumps is to be immunized with 2 doses of a mumps-containing vaccine i.e. measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine.
Immunization for mumps is routinely offered to children as 2 doses given at 12 months and 18 months of age. Contact public health for a copy of your immunization record.
Other measures to prevent mumps are:
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing;
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water;
- Clean frequently touched surfaces; and
- Avoid kissing or sharing personal items such as eating utensils, water bottles, drinks, lipsticks and cigarettes.
If you think you have been exposed to mumps, watch for symptoms and practice the above prevention measures.
Contact your health care provider if you become ill. Call ahead so they can prepare to see you without exposing others.
Someone with mumps must not go to school, daycare or work and should stay at home for at least 5 days after the salivary glands became swollen.
Risk in Saskatchewan
Under-immunization or no immunization increases the risk of transmission. Risk increases the longer and the closer a person comes into contact with someone who has mumps.
An immunization coverage rate of 75% to 86% is required to stop/interrupt transmission. Our coverage rates range from 59% (at 13 months) to 89.5% (at 17 years).
Mumps-containing vaccine (i.e. MMR) was introduced in Saskatchewan in 1979. Individuals born between 1979 and 1990 may have only received one dose.
University students, including international students and athletes, may not have had 2-doses of mumps-containing vaccine, creating conditions for disease transmission.