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Mumps Questions & Answers

  1. Q: What is the current Mumps situation in Ireland?
  2. Q: How does a person get infected from mumps?
  3. Q: I had contact with some people who have been diagnosed mumps. What are the symptoms of mumps?
  4. Q: What are the complications of mumps?
  5. Q: I already had mumps (parotid swelling) some time ago. Am I protected for life even if in contact with a mumps case?
  6. Q: I am pregnant and was in contact with a mumps case. What are the risks for my baby and myself?
  7. Q: How can I protect myself from mumps?
  8. Q: I am not a child, am I at risk of getting mumps?
  9. Q: I do not know if I had mumps vaccination in the past, where should I go to check for information on my vaccination status?
  10. Q: When did the mumps vaccine become available in Ireland?
  11. Q: Can I get mumps or orchitis (testicular swelling) from the vaccine?
  12. Q: Is there any test to confirm if I had mumps in the past, or if I am immune to mumps?
  13. Q: Is there any treatment for mumps?
  14. Q: If I develop mumps am I infectious to others? What should I do?

  1. Q: What is the current Mumps situation in Ireland?

    A: Since early November 2004 there has been an increase in mumps cases among teenagers and young adults. This is more than double the number reported for the first 10 months of 2004. The cases appear to be occurring mainly in individuals who were never immunised or only received one dose of MMR (the vaccine that contains mumps vaccine). A number of educational institutions in the country have reported mumps outbreaks among predominantly students (and some staff). In the colleges where outbreaks are occurring, the local health board staff are working closely with college health services to provide information and advice on how to prevent mumps and administering vaccine to those most at risk of infection.

  2. Q: How does a person get infected from mumps?

    A:Mumps is a viral disease transmitted by airborne or direct contact with infected droplets or saliva from an infected person. Humans are the only known host of the mumps virus.

  3. Q: I had contact with some people who have been diagnosed mumps. What are the symptoms of mumps?

    A: The symptoms of mumps may develop 14 to 25 days following exposure to an infected person. Mumps can be asymptomatic and there is evidence that 40-50% of mumps infections are associated with non-specific symptoms (slight fever, muscle ache, loss of appetite, tiredness, headache) or primarily respiratory symptoms, especially in children less than five years.

    Fever may last 3-4 days and the parotid gland (located just in front and below the ear) often swells (swelling may be on one side or both sides of the jaw). Symptoms usually last 7-10 days. In almost 30% of the symptomatic cases there is other salivary glands swelling. If there are no complications, the illness recovers spontaneously.

  4. Q: What are the complications of mumps?

    A: Inflammation of testicles (orchitis) happens in 20 - 50% of the cases. It affects both testicles in about 20% of the cases. Infertility after infection is rare. Inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or of the breast (mastitis) is uncommon and is not associated with any long-lasting consequences for the patient. Pancreatitis is reported in about 4% of the cases. Symptomatic meningitis is reported in up to 15% of the cases (this tends to be a mild and self-limiting complication). Encephalitis without meningitis is reported in approximately 5 out of 100,000 patients with mumps.

  5. Q: I already had mumps (parotid swelling) some time ago. Am I protected for life even if in contact with a mumps case?

    A: Parotid swelling can be caused by other viruses and diseases as well, so you may not be protected. Having a laboratory diagnosis (through either a blood or salivary test) is the only certain way to diagnose mumps infection. If you had a laboratory diagnosis of mumps you will not get infected.

  6. Q: I am pregnant and was in contact with a mumps case. What are the risks for my baby and myself?

    A: If you are immune (either through previous infection or through vaccination) you do not need to worry. You will not get the infection.
    It is reported that acquisition of mumps during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion. Malformations following mumps virus infection during pregnancy have not been found. The risks for the mother are the same as for the other adults.
    Pregnant women should not receive mumps vaccine (i.e. not receive MMR vaccine). Women who are not pregnant and receive MMR vaccine should avoid pregnancy for two months after vaccination. You should speak with your GP if you have concerns.

  7. Q: How can I protect myself from mumps?

    A: Mumps can be prevented by vaccination. In Ireland the MMR vaccine is provided with the measles and rubella vaccinations (MMR) at the age of 12-15 months and 4-5 years. It is a good idea for individuals to keep records of their own vaccination status for future reference.

    Individuals who might be at risk because they are not immune (never had mumps nor two MMR doses) should avoid contact with a mumps case.

    In 3rd level colleges where outbreaks are occurring, students between the ages of 16-25 years of age with no history of a 2nd dose of MMR are advised to contact student health services or their own GPs about vaccination.

  8. Q: I am not a child, am I at risk of getting mumps?

    A: Mumps is a disease that occurs in adults as well as in children. However, people in the older age groups (e.g. 25 years of age and older) are usually protected as a result of natural infection.

  9. Q: I do not know if I had mumps vaccination in the past, where should I go to check for information on my vaccination status?

    A: You can ask your GP if he/she has records of your vaccinations.

  10. Q: When did the mumps vaccine become available in Ireland?

    A: Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine was introduced in Ireland in 1988 as part of the routine childhood immunisation programme.

    Important dates relating to MMR vaccine usage in Ireland:
    1988 MMR introduced into routine childhood immunisation programme (for children, aged 15 months)
    1992 Second dose of MMR vaccine introduced for 11-12 year old children*
    1999 The age for second MMR dose dropped to 4-5 years of age*

    *Since 1999, there has been some regional variation in the school based vaccination programmes. Some health boards have offered vaccination at 11-12 years of age as well as 4-5 years of age. In some areas catch-up campaigns were organised.

    • Most children born after 1980 are likely to have had at least one dose of MMR vaccine (it was introduced in 1992 for the for the 11-12 year old children);
    • Children born after 1994 are likely to have been offered two doses of MMR vaccine (both at 15 months and again in school at 4-5 years of age);
    • During the Measles and Rubella vaccination campaign in 1995, school children (mainly aged 5-12 years) were offered Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine. This vaccine did not contain a mumps-containing vaccine, and, therefore would not protect against mumps;
    • Individuals who have had only one dose of MMR may not be immune to mumps. Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended for all children to ensure high levels of immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella.
    • In those colleges where mumps outbreaks are currently occurring, students less than 25 years of age who have not received at least two doses of MMR vaccine, are being recommended MMR.

  11. Q: Can I get mumps or orchitis (testicular swelling) from the vaccine?

    A: Occasionally, about 10-14 days after the MMR vaccination some individuals develop a mild form of mumps, with low fever and swelling of the parotid or other salivary glands. This is not infectious. This may occur in between 1-2% of vaccine recipients. Orchitis post vaccination is extremely rare.

  12. Q: Is there any test to confirm if I had mumps in the past, or if I am immune to mumps?

    A: Confirmation of being immune to mumps is possible through a blood or salivary test. These tests detect the level of antibodies to the mumps virus. These tests are not routinely available.

  13. Q: Is there any treatment for mumps?

    A: There is no specific treatment for mumps. Treatment should be based on relieving the symptoms.

  14. Q: If I develop mumps am I infectious to others? What should I do?

    A: If you develop mumps you may be infectious to others (non-immune) from about 4 days before to 5 days after parotid swelling. Individuals are advised not to attend school or college for 5 days after parotid swelling in view of the possibility of transmitting virus to non-immune individuals.

For further information go to http://www.immunisation.ie/en/