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What Is It?

Mumps is a viral disease that affects mainly children. However, it does occur in adolescents and adults.

How can you get it?

Mumps is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes. Mumps is most common in the winter and spring months. Patients with mumps are contagious from 1-2 days before the parotid glands (a salivary gland) swell to about 5 days after swelling starts. The virus can survive on surfaces and touching a surface contaminated with viral particles and then touching one’s nose or mouth can also result in infection.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of mumps begin about 16-18 days after exposure to the virus and include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Followed in a few days by swelling and tenderness of the salivary glands under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face (parotitis)

The complications of mumps are rare but may include: temporary or permanent deafness (1 in 20,000 cases), inflammation of various organs such as the brain, or, in those who have reached puberty, of the testicles, ovaries, and/or breasts.

How do you prevent it?

Mumps is now uncommon in the US due to the use of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. However, the 2-dose effectiveness of the vaccine is estimated at 80% to 90% which means that there are enough US residents who remain susceptible to the virus to result in periodic outbreaks, most recently in 2009. Students in close quarters, such as at summer camps and college, are at highest risk. The vaccine (MMR) also vaccinates against measles and rubella and is a routine childhood immunization. The MMR vaccine does not cause autism. Currently two doses are recommended in childhood.

Vaccination of healthcare personnel (2 doses of a live mumps virus vaccine) is recommended unless the worker was born during or after 1957 and has:

  • Documented administration of 2 doses of live mumps virus vaccine OR
  • Laboratory evidence of immunity OR
  • laboratory confirmation of disease.

The CDC also recommends at least 1 dose of a live mumps virus vaccine for unvaccinated workers born before 1957 who do not have physician-diagnosed mumps or laboratory evidence of mumps immunity.

In the event of a mumps outbreak, CDC recommends providing 2 doses of a live mumps virus vaccine to unvaccinated healthcare personnel born before 1957 who do not have evidence of mumps immunity.

Workers who get these vaccinations do not need to be excluded from work in the days immediately following vaccination.

In addition to vaccination, you can help prevent the spread of measles by:

  • Preventing contamination and performing decontamination of surfaces
  • Using Universal Precautions
    • Assume patients with respiratory symptoms are contagious and provide masks for symptomatic patients.
    • Limit the number of crew members having direct patient contact
    • Hand hygiene (wash with soap and water or using an alcohol based hand rub)
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE) (gloves, gowns, and respiratory protection), IAFF recommends P100 respirators for all patients with respiratory symptoms such as cough

What should you do if you believe you have been exposed to mumps?

Exposure = being within 3-6 feet of a patient with a diagnosis of mumps without the use of proper personal protective equipment.

What you do if you were this close depends on whether you are immune to mumps (see prevention criteria above).

  • If you are immune, you may continue working but must report any signs or symptoms of illness during the incubation period, from 12 until 25 days after exposure.
  • If you have had one of the required two vaccinations (partially immune), you should receive a 2nd dose as soon as possible, but no sooner than 28 days after the first. You may continue working but must report any signs or symptoms of illness during the incubation period, from 12 until 25 days after exposure.
  • If you are not immune, you should get vaccinated. You should not work from the 9th-26th days after the exposure. This applies even if you get your first dose of the vaccine as soon as you learn of the exposure.
  • You must be off work if you develop mumps.

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