What is mumps?
Mumps is a disease caused by a virus. People with mumps spread the virus when they
- Cough, sneeze, or talk
- Share items that may have saliva on them, such as water bottles or cups
- Participate in close-contact activities with others, such as playing sports, dancing, or kissing
Mumps symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen and tender glands under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face (parotitis). Most people with mumps recover fully. However, mumps infection can occasionally cause complications, such as swelling of the brain, testicles, ovaries or breasts. It can also cause temporary or permanent deafness.
Who can get mumps?
Mumps remains a common disease in many countries. Anyone who has not been vaccinated or had mumps before can get infected when they travel internationally. Mumps is more common among groups of people who have frequent, close contact with each other, such as college students, sports teams, or community groups (e.g., church members). These people may get mumps, even if they are vaccinated. However, a vaccinated person will likely have milder symptoms and is very unlikely to have complications.
What can travelers do to prevent mumps?
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against mumps. Mumps is a routine vaccination that children in the United States receive at 12-15 months of age. It’s a combination vaccine that also protects against measles and rubella (MMR vaccine). The vaccine is given in 2 doses, the second dose is given at least 28 days after the first dose.
If you were born after 1957 and have never had mumps or have never been vaccinated, you are at risk for mumps. You should get vaccinated with 2 doses before you travel.
Infants 6 to 11 months old traveling internationally should get 1 dose MMR vaccine before travel. This dose does not count as the first dose in the routine childhood vaccination series.
If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider and tell them about your travel. Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.
If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad.