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Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. There is no cure for mumps, and it can cause serious health problems. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine helps protect against mumps.


  • Before the vaccine, about 186,000 cases of mumps were reported each year in the US
  • Compared to the pre-vaccine era, the number of mumps cases in the US dropped by more than 99 percent

Outbreaks of mumps still occur in the US, usually among people who live in close quarters or have prolonged, close contact with someone who has mumps. Mumps spreads easily through coughing or sneezing, or through close contact, such as sharing cups or water bottles, kissing, or playing sports with someone who has been infected.


Mumps typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Then most people will have swelling of their salivary glands, which causes puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.

Most people with mumps recover completely within two weeks. However, in rare cases, mumps can cause serious complications, including:

  • swollen testicles, which may lead to a decrease in testicular size
  • swollen ovaries or breast tissue
  • inflammation in the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
  • inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
  • deafness

Neither inflammation of the testicles nor inflammation of the ovaries caused by mumps has been shown to lead to infertility.


The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best way to protect against mumps. The mumps vaccine is safe and effective. Some vaccinated people may still get mumps if they are exposed to the virus. But the risk of getting disease in a vaccinated person is much lower compared to an unvaccinated person.


There are currently no medications available to treat mumps. Getting plenty of rest, drinking enough fluids, applying a warm or cool compress to swollen glands, eating softer foods that don’t require as much chewing, and over-the-counter painkillers can help.


Updated June 16, 2020

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention