top of page

What are the MUMPS???

Have you ever heard of the MUMPS?

That sounds like a strange name, and it is, but what is it?... the MUMPS? It should have been called the Lumps or Bumps…

Because that is what is look like when you see the MUMPS on someone’s face

Have you ever wondered what the MUMPS are, and why you received a vaccine for it, more likely as a child? You probably never even gave it a second thought, and probably because it is part of the immunization schedule for children in the United States.

Whether you thought it about it or not… you have probably heard of the MUMPS, but maybe described in combination with the Measles and Rubella vaccines, as in the abbreviated form of MMR, short for Measles, Mumps and Rubella.

These are a combination of vaccines against these particular infectious diseases.

The MUMPS is a member of the Rubulavirus family, which is a paramyxovirus (just like the Measles). The MUMPS is also a very highly contagious infectious disease. And it is due to this contagiousness that it continues to survive and infect people.

So where did the Mumps come from?

The history of mumps was recorded as far back as 640 B.C in Chinese Medical literature, as well as in 410 BC by the father of Medicine himself…Hippocrates.

A British physician by the name of Robert Hamilton also described the Mumps in the late 1700’s.

The Mumps Virus was finally isolated in 1945, and eventually a Mumps vaccine, containing a live, but weakened virus, also described as an attenuated virus, was developed in 1967.

Prior to 1967, there were almost 200,000 reported Mumps cases each year.

After the Measles, MUMPS, and Rubella vaccine, there was a decrease of 99% of reported cases…that’s the power of vaccinations. Even with the breakthrough of the Mumps vaccine,

The MUMPS has not been fully eradicated, and outbreaks of the Mumps, in the thousands continue to occur.

So how is this occurring even with a vaccine?

First, A Mumps infection still can occur in fully vaccinated persons, but with a much lower duration and lessened complication risk.

Even though there is a Mumps vaccine, it is speculated that waning immunity, a kind-of mutation of the Mumps virus, and decreased vaccination rates in certain countries, have led to the continuity of infections of the Mumps virus…and also with the ease of worldwide travel, transmission from other countries is a factor.

So speaking of transmission, how is Mumps spread or contracted?

Unfortunately, the MUMPS is a virus that is spread like so many others… through the air where contaminated respiratory droplets / saliva become airborne from a cough or sneeze or talking. These can then be directly inhaled, by people in close contact of an infected person.

Is it also possible for a person to contract MUMPS from fresh saliva on cups, or utensils.

The incubation period for the Mumps is typically 16–18 days (but ranges from 12–25 days). Prodromal symptoms, such as headache, malaise, body aches, loss of appetite, and low grade fever, may begin prior to the sign of parotitis by several days.

So a person may have the Mumps virus but be asymptomatic during this time.

The most infectious period is from day 2 to day 5, after the onset of parotitis.

What is Parotitis?

It is what gives the Mumps its distinguished name and look.

Parotitis is the inflammation of the parotid glands, which are the largest of the salivary glands, which are glands that produce saliva.

These Parotid glands are located internally within the mouth, at the jawline, just in front of the ears. The Mumps virus infects these glands, causing these salivary glands, or Parotid glands, to become swollen, painful, and tender, and cause the face to become temporarily disfigured at the jawbone.

Signs and symptoms of the Mumps can include: swollen Parotid glands, Fever, Muscle aches, Fatigue, Weakness, Headache, Pain in the swollen area of the parotid glands, Pain while chewing and swallowing, a Decreased or Loss of appetite, or …may have no signs or symptoms at all

So the salivary glands swell… and the face swells temporarily… not big deal, right?


Although death from the Mumps is rare, there are many other complications that can occur with the Mumps.

ONE THING TO NOTE is that… complications are not as common in vaccinated persons.

Complications of the Mumps can include encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain; meningitis or inflammation of the meninges ( which is the protective covering of the brain), pancreatitis ; and hearing loss

In women Complications of the Mumps can include mastitis (or inflammation of breast tissue), oophoritis, or inflammation of the ovaries; and in men it can include Orchitis or inflammation of the testicles…which can lead to decreased fertility.

How long does the mumps last?

Mumps can have serious complications, but generally, most people recover completely within two weeks.

Prevention...How do you prevent the MUMPS?

The Mumps is prevented through vaccination. The mumps vaccine is usually in a combination vaccine with the Measles and Rubella vaccines that I mentioned earlier…the MMR vaccine.

The MMR vaccine is administered in two doses.

You may also see the MMR vaccine combined with the varicella (or chicken-pox) vaccine in the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella Vaccine or MMRV.

Another way to prevent the mumps is by avoiding people who are infected with the Mumps, if you have the luxury of knowing that they have the Mumps.

Mumps are most contagious up to five days after the onset of parotitis, or the swollen saliva glands.

If you have the Mumps, it is best to avoid large or intimate gatherings with people. Remember, a person with a Mumps infection may not show signs or symptoms for up to 2 to 4 weeks.

Nursing information about the Mumps:

Prior to caring for a mumps patient, it should be taken into consideration that the nurse should be one who is fully vaccinated against the Mumps.

Nursing care would include monitoring vital signs;

Monitor the face for swelling and pain, and other areas and type of pain such as headache, mastitis, oopheritis, orchitis, and pancreatitis.

Administering Pain medication as needed

Monitoring the patients appetite, ensure they are eating. drinking for hydration, and resting.

Some education to pass along to the patients

Is to ensure handwashing, isolate as necessary, and not to gather in groups.

When you hear about the MMR vaccine, you now know what the second “M” listed is for…what it means and what it is, and what it does, and why people need to be vaccinated against it.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page