Don't Wait, Vaccinate! Mumps Fact Sheet

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What you should know about mumps

What is mumps?

It's an illness caused by a virus. It spreads easily and is very contagious. People of all ages can get mumps.

What happens when you have mumps?

Fever, headache and painful swelling in the cheeks and neck can start 2–3 weeks after being infected. Although most people feel better within 7 to 10 days, complications such as infections and hearing loss can happen. Some people have mild or no symptoms, but they can still spread the illness to others.

Symptoms of mumps

  • Swelling in cheeks or neck
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore muscles
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble talking, chewing or swallowing
  • Earache
  • Tiredness

Complications of mumps

  • Infection of the brain and spinal cord (1–10% of cases)
  • Swelling of the brain
  • Temporary or permanent hearing loss
  • Infection or swelling of testicles, ovaries, breasts or other parts of the body

How does mumps spread?

Mumps can spread to others a few days before and for 5 days after symptoms start. It spreads from someone who has mumps: when they cough, sneeze or talk, share objects, touch objects or surfaces with unwashed hands, or kiss others. If you or your children haven't been fully vaccinated and have never had mumps, you don't have protection against the virus and are at risk of getting and spreading mumps.

How do you avoid mumps?

Mumps is common around the world and outbreaks still occur in Canada. Immunization is the best way to protect yourself, your children and your community.

If you have mumps, stay home from work or school for at least 5 days after the swelling starts to prevent others from getting mumps. During that time, avoid kissing or hugging others, avoid sharing drinks or utensils, cover coughs and sneezes, and wash hands often.

How is mumps found and treated?

Call your health care provider right away if you or your child has symptoms of mumps, particularly swelling of the cheeks or neck. Your health care provider will recommend ways to help relieve the symptoms of the illness. There is no cure for mumps.

What you should know about the mumps vaccine

What is the mumps vaccine?

Mumps vaccine is included in the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine, which is part of the regular childhood immunization series.

How well does the mumps vaccine work?

After two doses of vaccine, protection is 76–95%.

Some people who get two doses of vaccine will still get mumps if they are exposed to the virus. If they do get mumps, they are less likely to have severe symptoms or complications.

What are the benefits of this vaccine?

The mumps vaccine is safe, works well and is free. It's the best way to protect against mumps and its complications. Vaccination is safer than getting sick with mumps.

Who should get the mumps vaccine?

The mumps vaccine is given in 2 doses in childhood. Timing of when it's given varies by province and territory. The mumps vaccine is also recommended for some people who didn't get mumps or the vaccine in the past.

Where can I get the vaccine?

Call your health care provider or local Public Health Unit.

What are the possible side effects of the mumps vaccine?

Most children feel well and have no reaction to the vaccine.

In some cases, your child may have some symptoms which are usually mild and don't last long. Your child's arm may be a bit red, sore or swollen where the injection was given. Some people may have a mild fever and a mild rash 1–3 weeks after the vaccine that lasts for 1–3 days. Sometimes teens and adults have joint pain in the knees and fingers.

Talk to your health care provider about how to help relieve any symptoms after vaccination.

Where can I get more information?

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