Last reviewed 01/2018

Mumps is an acute contagious RNA paramyxovirus disease seen mainly in childhood, involving chiefly the salivary glands, most often the parotids, but other tissues may be affected, including the meninges and in postpubertal males the testes (1).

Infection occurs in susceptible children (2) but it is rare in infancy, presumably due to the persistence of maternal antibodies.

Mumps is transmitted via direct contact with infected droplet nuclei or fomites contaminated with infected saliva and possibly urine.

  • purely a disease affecting humans (no animal reservoirs) (1)
  • the virus has a low infectivity rate although some cases are subclinical
  • incubation period is about 18 days (may vary between 14 to 25 days) (3)
  • patients are infectious from 2 days before the onset of symptoms to 9 days afterwards (even asymptomatic patients may be infectious) (1)

Intrauterine infection may develop as a result of infection early in pregnancy.

The peak incidence of mumps in temperate climates is noticed in winter & spring. In tropical climates cases can occur regularly right through the year (1).

Mumps is a notifiable disease in UK (since October 1988) (3).