Mumps is caused by a virus that is spread through respiratory droplets via coughing and sneezing, by sharing drinks and food or by touching contaminated objects. It usually starts as a low-grade fever for several days with muscle aches, decreased appetite, fatigue and headache.
In time the parotid gland becomes inflamed causing tender swelling under the ears and jaw region. Some people only manifest with respiratory symptoms and some may be asymptomatic as well. Mumps is contagious for two days before infection and for five days after facial swelling. Symptoms can appear up to 25 days after exposure. Most people recover in a few weeks. Complications of mumps include deafness, meningitis, inflammation of the testicles which can lead to fertility issues and inflammation of the ovaries and breasts.
There is no medication to treat mumps. Only supportive care and prevention. Mumps can be prevented by vaccination. Children should be immunized at 1 and 4 years of age. A third vaccine can be given during times of outbreak to high-risk patients.