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Transmission of Mumps

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Mumps Virus Still Around

Children running

Mumps has not disappeared in the United States, and the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is the best way to prevent the disease.

Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as soft drink cans or eating utensils, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared. In addition, the virus may spread when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and someone else then touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose.

Most mumps transmission likely occurs before the salivary glands begin to swell and up to 5 days after the swelling begins. Therefore, CDC recommends isolation of mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell. The incubation time (how long it takes for symptoms to appear after a person is exposed to the virus) can range from 12-25 days.

Some things people can do to help prevent the spread of mumps and other infections include

  • Washing hands well and often with soap, and teaching children to wash their hands too
  • Not sharing eating or drinking utensils
  • Cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched (such as toys, doorknobs, tables, and counters) regularly with soap and water or with cleaning wipes
  • Minimize close contact with other people if you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands
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