Mumps (also called infectious or epidemic parotitis) is an acute inflammation of one or both parotid glands. The disease seldom occurs in infants under age 1 because of passive immunity from maternal antibodies. About 50% of cases occur in young adults, with the remainder occurring in young children or immunocompromised adults.
Peak incidence takes place during late winter and early spring. The prognosis for complete recovery is good, although some patients, especially postpubertal males, have serious complications. One attack of mumps (even with only unilateral infection) usually confers lifelong immunity.
The cause of mumps is the mumps virus, which spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva. If you are not immune, you can contract mumps by breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed. You can also contract mumps from sharing utensils or cups with someone who has mumps. Mumps is about as contagious as the flu.
Symptoms and Signs
The symptoms and signs of mumps are:
Glandular swelling confirms the diagnosis. Serologic testing to detect the mumps antibodies can verify the diagnosis if the patient's glands don't swell. If comparisons between a saliva, urine, or CSF specimen obtained during the acute phase of illness and another specimen obtained 3 weeks later show a fourfold increase in antibodies, the patient probably had mumps. Serum amylase levels also may be elevated.
Appropriate treatment includes analgesics for pain, antipyretics for fever, and adequate fluid intake to prevent dehydration from fever and anorexia. If the patient can't swallow, treatment may include I.V. fluid replacement.
For prevention, the MMR vaccine should be given to children. There is no effective post-exposure treatment.
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