If you were born after January 1, 1970, you need to have two doses of mumps-containing vaccine to be protected.
If you were born before 1970 or know that you have had mumps infection, you are considered protected.
Mumps vaccine is usually given as MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella). Since a second dose of MMR was not added to routine vaccination schedule in B.C. until 1996, many adults born between 1970 and 1996 are not fully protected. If you are not sure if you have complete protection, it is safe for you to receive another dose of MMR vaccine.
The mumps vaccination is available at VCH Public Health units. You can also get vaccinated at some physician offices, walk-in clinics and pharmacies, where those without BC health care coverage may be charged a fee.
Mumps is a viral illness causing fever and swelling of the salivary glands in the face, which are located below the jaw and ears and under the tongue. Some people with mumps won't have gland swelling. They may feel like they have a bad cold or the flu instead.
Mumps usually goes away on its own in about 10 days.
Complications can occur as a result of mumps infections including swelling of the testes in adult males and swelling of the ovaries in adult females, although sterility is a rare outcome. Rare complications include inflammation of the brain (meningitis) and temporary but often permanent deafness.
Mumps is spread by contact with saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus spreads through droplets in the air. You can be exposed to the virus even if you are two meters away from someone with mumps. Sharing food, drinks or cigarettes, or kissing someone who has the virus can also put you at risk.
You can spread the virus 7 days before and for 9 days after symptoms start. You are most likely to spread the virus 1 to 2 days before and 5 days after symptoms start.
Symptoms may include:
Swelling and pain in the jaw (One or both cheeks may look swollen)
Headache, earache, sore throat, and pain when you swallow or open your mouth
Tiredness, with aching in the muscles and joints
Poor appetite and vomiting
It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to get symptoms after you have been exposed to the virus. This is called the incubation period. Some people who are infected with the mumps virus don't have any symptoms.
If you have more serious symptoms, such as a stiff neck or a severe headache, painful testicles, or severe belly pain, call your doctor right away.
If you think you have mumps disease, stay home from work and social events. Contact your doctor before going to the clinic to avoid infecting other patients and office staff.
Get the facts about mumps at the VCH Communicable Disease Control website: sneezesdiseases.com/mumps or visit HealthLink BC.