Mumps: 7 important facts you need to know.
1) How does mumps spread ?
The mumps virus spreads when an infected person speaks, coughs or sneezes small droplets containing infectious agents into the air. Droplets in the air can be inhaled by relatives. The infection can spread through contact with hands, tissues and other objects contaminated from infected nose and throat discharges. The mumps virus is also spread by direct contact with the saliva of an infected person.
2) What are the signs and symptoms of mumps?
The swollen mucosa occurs most often in children and adolescents, although the symptoms are more severe in adults. About 30% of those infected have no symptoms (asymptomatic infections) or only mild symptoms.
When present, the symptoms are:
- Swelling of the glands on the sides of the face and along the jaw with tenderness starting just below and in front of one or both ears (see image)
- Inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) occurs in 20% of adult men
- Ovarian inflammation (oophoritis) occurs in about 5% of adult women.
Despite popular opinion, infertility following infection is rare. Another rare complication is inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). Meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) of mumps is probably more common and may be accompanied by hearing loss.
3) Diagnosis of mumps
The diagnosis is made following a clinical presentation and can be confirmed by laboratory tests of saliva collected from an oral sample (the lining of the inside of the mouth) or by a blood test (serology ).
4) Incubation period (time between infection and the development of symptoms)
Usually between 14 to 25 days, usually 18 days.
5) Infectious period (time during which an infected person can contaminate others)
Up to 6 days before the onset of swelling of the glands and up to 5 days after the onset of swelling. Asymptomatic infections can still spread the infection. Exposed non-immunized individuals should be considered infectious, 12th to 25th day after exposure, whether or not they have symptoms.
The treatment of symptoms includes the intake of many fluids. Paracetamol can be given for fever and pain. There is no specific antiviral treatment. Aspirin should not be administered to children under 12 years of age unless otherwise directed by a physician.
- Exclude persons with mumps from childcare, nursery, school and work for 5 days after the onset of swelling.
- Tissues and other objects soiled with nasal secretions should be disposed of properly.
- Mumps is best avoided by the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or the combined measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine.
- Nearly 100% of people who had 2 doses of a mumps vaccine will be protected against mumps.
- Vaccination against mumps after exposure will not stop the infection, but it will protect against future exposures.