Mumps is particularly contagious two days before and four days after the first symptoms appear. However, the period of infection is often longer.
Good to know: Anyone can get mumps – even people who have been vaccinated, although the course is usually milder. After contracting mumps, a person usually has lifelong protection from the infection returning.
The first symptoms of mumps are usually nonspecific. They include, for example:
- Headache and body aches
A day or two after the first symptoms appear, the parotid glands in some patients swell – either on one or both sides. Puffiness is noticeable in the jaw and cheek area. Sometimes there is soreness in the ear and pain when chewing. The swelling usually subsides after a week, while the fever often subsides after a few days.
Sometimes the salivary glands and nearby lymph nodes also become enlarged.
Many childhood illnesses are accompanied by a rash. These include measles and rubella. In contrast, there is usually no rash associated with mumps.
Complications of mumps
Adolescents and adults with mumps have more complications than children. This includes, for example, meningitis, which often presents as a stiff neck, severe headache and vomiting. Rarely, encephalitis can occur.
Another possible complication is orchitis: it occurs in one third of adolescent males with mumps. It can be recognized by a painful swelling of one or both testicles, which in rare cases leads to infertility. In women, inflammation of the mammary glands or ovaries occurs.
In connection with mumps infection, inflammation of the inner ear or inflammation of the auditory nerve can also occur. Rarely, long-term damage such as deafness occurs afterward. A small number of affected people (usually young adults) develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) as a result of the mumps infection, which can lead to severe abdominal pain.