Is Mumps Contagious? A Definitive Yes or No Answer

As it progresses, the virus affects the salivary glands, leading to the characteristic swelling of the cheeks and jawline. Although the symptoms of mumps may seem mild at first, they can actually lead to serious complications, such as meningitis, orchitis, and deafness. For this reason, it's important to understand whether or not mumps is contagious, as this can impact how you take precautions to avoid infection. In this article, we'll explore this question in depth, looking at the causes of mumps, how it spreads, and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.

How Contagious Is Mumps in Adults?

Since mumps is a viral infection, there’s no specific cure for it. The treatment mainly focuses on alleviating the symptoms. It’s essential that an infected person takes rest and drinks plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken to ease the discomfort and fever. An ice pack or warm compress can be applied to reduce the swelling.

Adults who’ve had mumps before are unlikely to get it again, as the body develops immunity to the virus after the first infection. Therefore, it’s recommended that children receive the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine to prevent the spread of the infection. The vaccine is widely available and highly effective. It’s administered in two doses, usually at the age of 12-15 months and between 4-6 years.

Mumps is a concerning infection, not only because of it’s symptoms, but also due to it’s potential complications. One of the most severe conditions resulting from mumps is inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). Other severe complications include inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), inflammation of the ovaries/testicles (oophoritis/orchitis) which may lead to infertility.

The best way to prevent mumps is vaccination. However, if infected, it’s essential to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread and seek medical help if the symptoms worsen or persist. Although complications can occur, most people recover fully from mumps within a few weeks with appropriate care and management. Therefore, early detection and timely treatment are critical to alleviate the symptoms and prevent severe complications.

Symptoms of Mumps in Adults

  • Swelling and tenderness of one or both salivary glands, which are located below your ears
  • Pain while chewing or swallowing
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Earache on the affected side
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Now that we know the seriousness of mumps and how it spreads, it’s important to understand what symptoms to look out for and how the infection can be prevented.

Can You Be Around Someone With Mumps?

Mumps is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily affects young children. It’s spread through contact with an infected persons saliva or respiratory droplets. Mumps is most commonly known for causing painful swelling of the salivary glands, which are located in the cheeks and jaw. However, the virus can also cause other symptoms, such as fever, headache, and muscle aches. Mumps can also affect other glands in the body, such as the testicles in males or the ovaries in females, which can lead to complications and infertility.

If you’re around someone who’s been diagnosed with mumps, it’s important to take precautions to avoid getting infected. This means avoiding close contact with the person, avoiding sharing food or drinks with them, and washing your hands frequently. If you haven’t been vaccinated against mumps, it’s recommended that you get vaccinated as soon as possible, as this is the best way to protect yourself from the disease. Vaccination is also important for preventing outbreaks in communities, especially in settings such as schools, where the disease can easily spread among unvaccinated children.

This is because no vaccine is 100% effective, and there’s always a small chance that you could become infected. However, if you’ve been vaccinated, your symptoms are likely to be milder than if you hadn’t been vaccinated. In addition, you’re less likely to develop complications from the disease, such as meningitis or encephalitis.

This means staying home from work or school until you’re no longer contagious, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and washing your hands often. It’s also important to avoid close contact with other people, as the disease can be easily spread through respiratory droplets. The good news is that most people recover from mumps without any long-term complications, and the disease is generally not life-threatening. However, it’s important to take the disease seriously and seek medical attention if you develop symptoms.

By taking these steps, you can help protect yourself and others from this potentially serious disease.

Source: Mumps | Outbreak Questions and Answers for Patients | CDC

Overall, vaccination has greatly decreased the prevalence of mumps in the U.S. However, it’s still important for individuals who aren’t vaccinated to take precautions in order to reduce their risk of infection. Additionally, even vaccinated individuals should be aware of the potential for outbreaks and monitor for any symptoms of mumps. In the following sections, we will explore more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of mumps.

How Likely Is It to Get Mumps?

Mumps is a viral infection that’s caused by the mumps virus. It spreads through air droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can also be spread through contact with contaminated objects or surfaces. The virus primarily affects the salivary glands in the neck, causing them to swell and become tender. Other symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, and difficulty swallowing.

Before the introduction of mumps vaccines, thousands of cases of mumps were reported annually in the United States. However, since the introduction of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine in the 1960s, the number of reported cases has dramatically decreased. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were less than 500 cases reported in the United States in 20The vaccine is highly effective at preventing mumps, with two doses being 88% effective at preventing infection.

Even though outbreaks of mumps aren’t as common as they once were, they still occur. In recent years, there have been several outbreaks of mumps reported in the United States, primarily among college students. Outbreaks have also occurred in other countries with high vaccination rates, such as the United Kingdom and Canada. It’s important for people to continue getting vaccinated to prevent outbreaks from occurring.

People who aren’t vaccinated against mumps are at the highest risk of infection. This includes young children who haven’t yet received both doses of the MMR vaccine and adults who haven’t received the vaccine or who haven’t had the infection before. People who’ve weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, are also at higher risk of getting mumps and experiencing severe symptoms.

While it’s possible for vaccinated people to still get mumps, they usually experience milder symptoms and fewer complications compared to unvaccinated people. Vaccination helps reduce the severity of the illness and lower the risk of complications, such as meningitis, encephalitis, and orchitis (swelling of the testicles). It’s important to note that even vaccinated people can still spread the virus to others who’re unvaccinated or under-vaccinated.

With the mumps virus and it’s method of transmission in mind, it’s important to understand the ease with which this illness can be contracted.

How Easy Is It to Catch Mumps?

Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection that can spread rapidly under certain conditions. Although the incidence of mumps has declined significantly in developed countries due to vaccination, outbreaks can still occur in unvaccinated populations. It’s relatively easy to catch mumps, especially in crowded and poorly ventilated places where people are in close contact with each other. The virus can survive on surfaces for several hours, making it easy to spread through contaminated objects and surfaces.

Mumps is most contagious two days before the onset of symptoms until five days after swelling of the salivary glands begins. The virus can still be present in saliva for up to two weeks after the onset of symptoms, even if the swelling has gone down. Therefore, infected individuals should avoid close contact with others for at least five days after symptoms start. This can be difficult, especially for children who may not be aware of the risks of spreading the virus.

The symptoms of mumps usually appear 14 to 18 days after exposure to the virus. They include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, and swollen salivary glands. The severity of the symptoms can vary widely, with some people experiencing only mild symptoms, while others develop complications such as meningitis or encephalitis. In rare cases, mumps can lead to permanent deafness or infertility.

To reduce the risk of catching mumps, it’s important to practice good hygiene habits, such as washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Individuals who haven’t been vaccinated against mumps should consider getting vaccinated to protect themselves and others from the virus. In addition, anyone who’s been in close contact with someone who’s mumps should be on the lookout for symptoms and seek medical attention if they develop.

The best way to prevent the spread of mumps is to stay home if you’re sick and avoid close contact with others. By taking simple precautions, you can reduce your risk of getting mumps and help protect those around you from this highly contagious virus.

How Is Mumps Treated and What Are the Possible Complications?

  • Rest and isolation: This contagious disease requires patients to rest in bed for at least five days, and stay away from others to avoid spreading the virus.
  • Pain relief: Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to alleviate discomfort.
  • Hydration: It’s important for patients to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Soft foods: Eating soft foods like mashed potatoes and soup can help ease pain and discomfort while swallowing.
  • Symptom monitoring: Your doctor will monitor your symptoms to ensure the virus doesn’t lead to more serious complications.
  • Preventing complications: Complications of mumps can include meningitis, encephalitis, and deafness. Vaccination is the best way to prevent mumps and it’s complications.

It’s important to note that mumps is a contagious viral infection that requires proper precautions to avoid further spread. This includes isolation measures that need to be taken by those infected to ensure the safety of those around them. Along with physical distancing, there may also be additional measures suggested by healthcare professionals to prevent the spread of the virus.

Does Mumps Require Isolation?

Additionally, if someone is suspected of having mumps, they should avoid contact with others until they’ve a definitive diagnosis. This is because mumps is highly contagious and can spread easily through saliva and mucus. This means that close contact with others, such as kissing or sharing utensils or drinks, should be avoided.

This may include using over-the-counter pain relief medications to ease the pain and swelling of the salivary glands, as well as drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. It’s also important to rest and avoid strenuous activity until the symptoms have fully resolved.

While isolation measures aren’t typically necessary for those with mumps, there are some situations where isolation may be recommended. For example, if someone with mumps is hospitalized, they may be placed in a private room to prevent further spread of the virus to other patients and staff.

This includes avoiding close contact with others, practicing good hand hygiene, and taking steps to maintain comfort during the illness. With proper care and precautions, most people with mumps will make a full recovery within a few weeks.

Common Symptoms of Mumps

  • Swelling and pain in one or both salivary glands (located on the cheeks and jaw)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain when chewing or swallowing
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Difficulty speaking


As the infection progresses, it can lead to the characteristic symptom of swollen and painful salivary glands, especially in the area surrounding the ears. While the disease is generally mild, it can cause serious complications in some cases, such as meningitis, orchitis, ovarian inflammation, and deafness. As it’s spread through respiratory droplets, it’s essential to take appropriate measures to prevent it’s transmission, such as avoiding close contact with infected individuals, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and regularly washing your hands.