Front of neck of a young child showing the characteristic swelling due to enlargement of the salivary glands brought on by a mumps infection.Mumps is an infectious disease caused by the mumps virus. It is best known for the swollen, painful cheeks and neck that it may cause.

It is spread mainly through respiratory droplets in the air produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Infection can lead to serious illness.

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Symptoms generally occur between 12 to 25 days after infection and resolve three to ten days after onset of illness. The most common are fever and swollen cheeks and neck. Swollen cheeks and neck are due to swollen glands, usually under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face.

Approximately 20 per cent of those infected with mumps will not show any symptoms. Nearly half of those infected have mainly respiratory symptoms.


Mumps is caused by the mumps virus, which is spread through respiratory droplets in the air formed when coughing or sneezing and through the sharing of food or drinks. You can also catch it by touching an item that was previously touched by an infected person and then touching your eyes or mouth.


There is currently no cure for mumps. Current treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms.


Mumps can be prevented through immunization. Manitoba has a provincial immunization program, which provides free, publicly-funded vaccines to those who are eligible.

The average incubation period for mumps, which is the time from exposure to when the appearance of symptoms occurs, is 16-18 days with a range of 12-25 days.

A person is infectious from seven days before to 5 days after the onset of swollen glands. Maximum infectiousness occurs 2 days before symptoms until 5 days after. A person with no symptoms can transmit infection.

Other precautions can be taken, including practicing good hand hygiene, covering your mouth with a tissue or your shirt sleeve when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding sharing of personal items.

Most people who have mumps will be protected (immune) from getting mumps again.  There is a small percent of people though, who could get re-infected with mumps and have a milder illness. 

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