Mumps are back

Mumps are back and cases have grown by 4 times between 2018 and 2019 according to a recent study by health officials in England and it is the highest increase in a decade. There have been similar increases in Wales and Scotland too. Outbreaks at universities and colleges have helped the number of cases increase in 2019.

What are Mumps

Mumps are a viral infection and used to be a common condition with school children before the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine was introduced in the UK in 1998. Mumps is a contagious condition and a person is contagious a few days before symptoms appear and are still contagious a few days after symptoms afterwards too.

This condition is spread through infected droplets  of saliva breathed in through the mouth and nose, so if you were infected and you coughed then chances are someone else would get it too. So a school, college, or university is a perfect breeding ground for the virus because there are lots of potential carriers.

So if an infected person touched their nose or mouth and touched an object such as a door handle or a work surface shortly afterwards the virus could be transferred to a new host. Or if you are sharing cups or cutlery with an infected person then potentially you could get it too.

Mumps can also be passed on by people who are infected but are showing no obvious symptoms too.

What are Mumps Symptoms

Mumps usually develop between 14 and 25 days from initial infection according to medical professionals, swelling occurs just below the ears in the Parotid glands these produce the saliva.

Common symptoms include;

  • Headaches
  • Painful swelling of Parotid glands below the ears
  • Hight temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • Joint pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild abdominal pain
  • Feeling sick

1 in 3 cases do not show any symptoms however.

Is a GP visit necessary?

Mumps are usually not serious but this condition does have similar symptoms to more serious conditions such as ‘Glandular Fever and Tonsillitis’ so getting a GP to check you out is a wise move.

You should let your GP know if you think you may have Mumps so they can prepare for your visit to ensure the virus is contained and prevent further spreading. A GP visit will either confirm you have it or rule it out.

What can an infected person do?

There is no current vaccine for Mumps so you have to rely on the body’s immune system to fight off the infection, symptoms usually pass within a couple of weeks. The NHS advise that you get;

  • Plenty of bed rest till symptoms subside
  • Take over the counter pain killers such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol, (children under 16 should not be given Aspirin).
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat foods that do not require chewing such as soup, mashed potato, or eggs

How can I prevent spreading infection?

If you have Mumps then you should prevent the infection spreading, and in particular to younger members of the family born between 1980 and 1990 because they are unlikely to have immunity from previous infections and during that decade and unlikely to have been vaccinated either.

  • Stay away from large groups of people till day 5 or later after you have developed Mumps symptoms so you are no longer contagious
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • Use tissues or similar when coughing or sneezing and discard promptly into a bin.

Complications that can occur if you have Mumps

There are several complications that can occur if you have Mumps, although worrying they are very rarely serious and disappear as you start to recover from the virus.

  • Swollen testicle which affects 1 in 4 males
  • Swollen ovaries which affects 1 in 20 females
  • Viral meningitis which affects 1 in 7 cases of mumps (not to be confused with bacterial meningitis)
  • Pancreatitis which affects 1 in 20 cases of mumps


There is NO vaccine for Mumps at this time of writing, and once you have had Mumps you are thought to be immune to getting it again according to NHS. Children who were born between 1980 and 1990 are thought to be more at risk because it was not very likely that they were vaccinated and if they haven’t had the condition as a youngster.

1998 saw the introduction of MMR vaccine as part of the children’s vaccination schedule, they normally have the first dose around 12 months with the second dose before they start school.

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