With cases on the rise in the UK, get your facts straight here.
In a nutshell
Mumps is a viral infection that mostly affects young people (generally under 24). It's transmitted from one person to another through airborne droplets. This makes coughing and sneezing a big infection factor, as well as kissing and close contact in general. Someone who has mumps can be infectious without showing symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
A slight temperature, but typically a swelling just under each side of the jaw line and in the cheeks (where the salivary glands are located). More seriously, almost a third of infected males could experience a swelling of the testes. In some cases, where the male is sexually mature, it can lead to infertility. There is also a slight risk to young women of inflammation of the ovaries, but with no lasting damage. Complications can occur in both genders, however, including temporary deafness and an increased risk of contracting viral meningitis.
How long before symptoms show up?
It can take between 12-25 days for symptoms of mumps to kick in, and is infectious approximately a week before (and after) the first signs appear. However, in up to one third of all cases there will be no symptoms at all.
How is it treated?
There is no antidote to mumps. Instead, treatment is focused on easing the symptoms. Most people make an easy recovery, but the infertility risk to men and the vulnerability to meningitis mean every case must be taken seriously.
Can it be prevented?
Yes. A vaccination against mumps is contained in the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab - which is given to young children. However, this was not available until 1988. As a result, 13-24 year olds who did not receive immunisation are most at risk. What's more, a recent controversy about the safety of the jab (which proved unfounded) has left many young children exposed to the risk of infection.
What can I do?
If you're under 24 and have not had an MMR jab or individual mumps immunisation, consult your GP.
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