What is mumps?

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. There is no treatment for mumps, and it can cause long-term health problems.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Mumps usually causes the following symptoms for about 7 to 10 days:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite (not wanting to eat)
  • Swollen glands under the ears or jaw

Some people who get mumps do not have symptoms. Others may feel sick but will not have swollen glands.

Is it serious?

In most children, mumps is pretty mild. But it can cause serious, lasting problems, including:

  • Meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord)
  • Deafness (temporary or permanent)
  • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • Orchitis (swelling of the testicles) in males who have reached puberty
  • Oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries) and/or mastitis (swelling of the breasts) in females who have reached puberty

In rare cases, mumps is deadly.

How does mumps spread?

Mumps spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Mumps can spread before swollen glands appear and for 5 days afterward.

Why should my child get the MMR shot?

The MMR shot:

  • Protects your child from mumps, a potentially serious disease (and also protects against measles and rubella)
  • Prevents your child from getting a fever and swollen glands under the ears or jaw from mumps
  • Keeps your child from missing school or childcare (and keeps you from missing work to care for your sick child)
  • Use of mumps vaccine (usually administered in measles-mumps-rubella [MMR] or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella [MMRV] vaccines) is the best way to prevent mumps.

Is the MMR shot safe?

Yes. The MMR shot is very safe, and it is effective at preventing mumps (as well as measles and rubella). Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. But most children who get the MMR shot have no side effects.

What are the side effects?

Most children don’t have any side effects from the shot. The side effects that do occur are usually very mild, such as a fever or rash. More serious side effects are rare. These may include high fever that could cause a seizure (in about 1 person out of every 3,000 that get the shot) and temporary pain and stiffness in joints (mostly in teens and adults).

Is there a link between the MMR shot and autism?

No. Scientists in the United States and other countries have carefully studied the MMR shot. None has found a link between autism and the MMR shot.

Vaccine Information

The mumps disease can be prevented by the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) combination vaccine or the MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) combination vaccine.

How many different types of Mumps vaccines available? Are they all equal in efficacy and protection?

Formulations from different manufacturers have different strains of the vaccine virus. Mumps vaccine virus strains include Leningrad-Zagreb, Leningrad-3, Jeryl Lynn, RIT 4385 or Urabe AM9 strains and are grown in chick embryo/human diploid cell cultures. Long term protection with single dose of mumps (MMR) is 60-90%; outbreaks have been noted in previously vaccinated populations. Hence two doses are at least needed for durable protection. However, outbreaks are reported even in the recipients of two doses of MMR in highly vaccinated groups.

What are the new recommendations of IAP ACVIP on MMR vaccine use?

IAP ACVIP, considering the significant burden and morbidity following mumps infection, suggests that MMR be given at 9 months and 15 months; and since ‘time since vaccination’ is a factor in mumps outbreaks, a 3rd dose of MMR at 4-6 years age be added to prevent mumps outbreaks in the older children and adolescents.


  • Mumps and the Vaccine (Shot) to Prevent It. Available from: www.cdc.gov
  • IAP Guidebook on Immunization 2013-14. Available from: www.iapindia.org
  • Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children Aged 0 through 18 years — India, 2016 and Updates on Immunization. Available from: www.indianpediatrics.net