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Mumps is the name given to a highly contagious childhood disease, usually affecting children between the ages of 5 and 12. Outbreaks of mumps have been restrained through immunization. Once affected, the subject has a lasting immunity. Mumps is contracted mainly during the winter and spring and is transmitted by saliva droplets emitted by the patient. The virus attaches itself mainly to the glands of the body such as the salivary glands, the parotid, pancreas, testes in boys, but also the nerves.


The disease can go unnoticed: we speak of asymptomatic mumps. However, the symptoms of mumps can include:
  • initially, a phase with headache, fever, ear pain, and jaw pain during meals;

  • a lump located behind the jaw that is painful on palpation, due to the inflammation of the parotid glands on both sides: mumps parotitis;
  • sometimes, pain in the upper abdomen or vomiting in connection with the infection of the pancreas;
  • later on, the testes may appear warm, red, increased in size and painful: orchitis.


The diagnosis of mumps is strongly suspected during clinical examination and confirmation, if necessary, is made through laboratory analysis. Protein, lipase in particular, will be increased in a blood sample. Other virus isolation techniques exist, but they are only used in cases of doubt, which is rarely necessary.


Generally, all of these symptoms gradually disappear completely, but the swelling of the parotid glands may persist for two weeks. Rarely, transient effects such as hearing disorders or decreased testicular size may be present. The treatment of mumps is primarily focused on the reduction of symptoms with painkillers, rest, and the use of a bandage for the scrotum in the case of orchitis. The affected child should not go to school until he is cured.


There is a vaccine to prevent mumps. It is offered to people who have not yet been infected and children aged less than one year. The vaccine combines immunity against measles and rubella, and is called the MMR vaccine. Two injections are given, one between 9 and 12 months, the other after two years.

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