Bacteriology at UW-Madison
The Microbial World
Lectures in Microbiology by Kenneth Todar PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Bacteriology
© 2009 Kenneth Todar PhD
Mumps is a disease involving
the parotid and other salivary glands. The
causative agent is an enveloped ss (-)RNA virus in the Paramyxovirus
Mumps begins with sudden onset of fever and swelling and tenderness of
the parotids, sometimes followed by other glands in the throat. The
virus is localized here but may spread to the testes or ovaries,
especially in adolescents and young adults, the thyroid gland, and
occasionally the central nervous system.
Up to 50% of mumps infections may produce only nonspecific upper
respiratory symptoms, 30-40% result in parotitis, and 15-20% are
asymptomatic. Mild aseptic meningitis may affect 4-6% persons
infected, while more rare central nervous system complications can
result in permanent sequelae, including deafness. Orchitis may occur in
up to 50% of postpubertal males.
Uncomplicated mumps is a relatively mild disease, and tissue damage is
not severe or permanent (although the swelling causes pain) except in
the testis, which may be compressed by the swelling within its limiting
membrane (orchitis) and later atrophied. Ovarian infection does not
result in sterility because the ovaries can swell without compression
by their limiting sheath.
Mumps is spread by coughing and sneezing. Mumps is about as
contagious as influenza or rubella, but less so than measles or
chickenpox. It is generally transmitted from about 3 days before
symptoms appear to about 4 days after, when the virus can be
isolated from saliva.
The virus replicates in the nasopharynx and lymph nodes. Transmission
is airborne or through direct contact with infected droplets of saliva.
No specific treatment is available for persons with mumps. Treatment is
Mumps vaccine contains live, attenuated mumps virus. In the United
States, it is available as a single antigen preparation (Mumpsvax),
combined with live attenuated measles vaccine (M-M-Vax), or combined
with both live attenuated measles and rubella vaccine (
In the United States, a dose of MMR is recommended at 12-15 months of
age and a second dose at age 4-6 years. A single dose of mumps vaccine,
either as single antigen or in combination, has a protective efficacy
of 90-96%, and the second dose should provide protection to most people
who do not respond to the first dose.
National Immunization program: Mumps
Written and Edited by Kenneth Todar. All rights
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