A young girl playing with her toys on the floor, looking upwards.

Characterised by fever and swollen salivary glands, mumps is rare in Australia thanks to widespread immunisation. However, cases do occur so continued immunisation is important.

Did you know?

  • One-third of those infected with mumps will have no symptoms1
A young, curly haired boy brushing his teeth.

What is it?

Mumps is a viral infection caused by the mumps Rubulavirus which leads to fever and swollen salivary glands. Once a common disease in children and young adults, mumps is now uncommon in Australia thanks to immunisation, however cases still occur.

If the inflammation (swelling) caused by mumps spreads to other parts of the body, then serious, sometimes fatal complications can develop.

What are the symptoms?

Mumps symptoms generally occur 12 to 25 days after infection and can include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • generally feeling unwell
  • muscle aches and pains
  • loss of appetite
  • swelling of the salivary glands (located just in front of the ear)
  • painful chewing or swallowing.

Serious complications with mumps can include meningitis (swelling of the brain and spinal cord) and deafness due to nerve damage. Other parts of the body can be affected, resulting in swelling and pain. This includes the testicles, breast, ovaries, heart, liver, thyroid and pancreas. During the first three months of pregnancy, mumps infection can cause miscarriage.

This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following mumps infection. Please speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about mumps infection.

How is it spread?

Mumps can be spread from person to person through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread through close contact with an infected person via saliva or urine. Some people who are infected with the virus may not have any symptoms and can spread the disease without knowing.

Mumps is as contagious as the flu, so those who care for someone with mumps should practise strict hygiene, such as washing hands frequently, particularly before handling, preparing or eating food and after visiting the toilet or changing a nappy and not sharing food or drinking utensils.

People infected with mumps are contagious for up to 2 days before and for up to 5 days after symptoms appear.

Who is at risk?

Since the introduction of the mumps vaccine in Australia, mumps is now uncommon. However, mumps cases are still reported worldwide and anyone who has not been immunised for mumps is at risk of mumps infection, particularly those who travel to countries where the mumps vaccine is not widely available.

Other people may be at risk of mumps infection. Please speak to your doctor regarding your individual circumstances.

Who should be vaccinated?

  • Mumps-containing vaccine is recommended and provided free for children as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Two doses are given, at 12 months and 18 months of age, as combination vaccines that also help protect against other diseases.

    Immunisation schedule

    •  Immunisation funded via the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
    Diseases Birth 2 months 4 months 6 months 12 months 18 months 4 years 10 to <15 years 15-19 years
    Chickenpox (varicella)+                  
    A second dose of varicella vaccine is recommended any time between 4 years of age and less than 14 years, at least 4 weeks after the first dose. Speak to your doctor to learn more.
    Diphtheria                  
     
    Hepatitis A+                  
    Two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine are recommended and NIP-funded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at 12 months and 18 months living in certain areas. A two-dose schedule (which is not funded) is also recommended for some medically at-risk children and adolescents. Speak to your doctor to learn more.
    Hepatitis B+                  
    An additional booster vaccine is recommended at 12 months of age for preterm infants who were born at less than 32 weeks gestation or whose birth weight was under 2000 grams. Speak to your doctor to learn more.
    Haemophilus influenzae
    type b (Hib)
                     
     
    Human Papillomavirus (HPV)                  
     
    Measles                  
     
    Meningococcal ACWY disease+                  
    The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is strongly recommended (but not funded) for children less than 2 years of age, adolescents (15 - 19 years), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (2 months - 19 years), and those aged at or above 2 months with certain medical conditions. A free dose is given at 12 months of age. For anyone wishing to reduce their risk of meningococcal disease the vaccine is recommended if their doctor deems it appropriate. Speak to your doctor to learn more or see who is most at risk of meningococcal disease here.
    Meningococcal B disease+                  
    The meningococcal B vaccine is strongly recommended (but not funded) for children less than 2 years of age, adolescents (15 - 19 years), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (2 months - 19 years), and those aged at or above 2 months with certain medical conditions. For anyone wishing to reduce their risk of meningococcal disease the vaccine is recommended if their doctor deems it appropriate. Speak to your doctor to learn more or see who is most at risk of meningococcal disease here.
    Mumps                  
     
    Pneumococcal disease+                  
    An additional dose of pneumococcal vaccine is recommended and NIP-funded at 6 months of age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Two additional doses (at 6 months and 4 years) are recommended and NIP-funded for medically-at risk children. Further doses may be recommended and funded during adolescence depending on risk – speak to your doctor to learn more.
    Polio                  
     
    Rotavirus                  
     
    Rubella                  
     
    Tetanus                  
     
    Whooping cough (pertussis)                  
     
    Annual flu+      
     

     

     

     

     

     
    The influenza vaccine is recommended annually for all people aged 6 months and over. Influenza vaccine is funded under the NIP for those at or above 6 months of age with certain medical conditions and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months to under 5 years and those aged at or above 15 years. Learn more about who should receive flu vaccination.
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  • Two doses of the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are recommended for anyone who is not immune. If you were born during or after 1966, you should review your immunisation records to make sure you have received 2 doses or have evidence of immunity. If you are unsure, speak to your doctor.

    If you are planning on becoming pregnant, please speak to your doctor about whether you should be immunised. You need to wait 28 days after receiving the mumps vaccine before you become pregnant.

    Immunisation schedule

    •  Immunisation may be recommended by experts but is not funded
    Diseases All adults Planning for a baby Pregnancy 65 and over 70 to 79 years Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander adults
    Chickenpox (varicella)            
     
    Diphtheria            
     
    Hepatitis B            
     
    Measles            
     
    Meningococcal ACWY disease            
     
    Meningococcal B disease            
     
    Mumps            
     
    Pneumococcal disease+            
    Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended and funded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at 50 years of age, with a second dose recommended five years later. All non-Indigenous people can receive a free vaccine at 65 years of age. Women planning pregnancy who have risk factors for pneumococcal disease, including smokers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, should be assessed for pneumococcal vaccination.
    Rubella            
     
    Shingles (Herpes zoster)+            
    The herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine is funded for adults aged 70 years, with a short-term catch-up program for adults aged 71-79. It is also recommended (but not funded) for all adults over 60 years of age.
    Tetanus            
     
    Whooping cough (pertussis)            
     
    Annual flu+            
    The influenza vaccine is recommended annually for all adults, and is funded for pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy), people aged 65 and over, people with certain medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
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  • If you’re travelling overseas, make sure that you are up to date with your mumps immunisations.

    It is important to plan ahead and see your doctor at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel to discuss immunisation and travel health.

Treatment

Because it is a viral infection, there is no specific treatment for mumps. Rather, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and can include bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids, reducing fever and pain, cold packs to press against swollen glands and reducing the risk of spreading the disease by staying away from others.

Important information

For information about mumps immunisation, speak to your doctor.

Some side effects may be experienced following immunisation. Please discuss any side effects or concerns with your doctor.

References

  1. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition (2017 update). Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health. https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccine-preventable-diseases/mumps  (accessed September 2018)

AUS/VAC/0085/18 Date of Approval November 2018