Mumps is an acute infectious disease caused by a paramyxovirus. Humans are the only known natural host. Mumps disease is usually mild, characterized by fever and swelling of one or both parotid salivary glands. The parotiditis usually develops an average of sixteen to eighteen days after direct contact, through the nose or mouth, with the saliva of an infected individual. In approximately 20 to 40 percent of cases, however, mumps disease occurs asymptomatically or with an uncharacteristic presentation.
Even though mumps is regarded as a fairly benign disease in the twenty-first century, in the prevaccine era mumps caused much morbidity and mortality in the United States. In 1967, mumps accounted for over one-third of encephalitis cases and one death occurred out of approximately 20,000 mumps cases. Mumps infection during pregnancy is not associated with birth defects, but infection during the first trimester is associated with a greater occurrence of fetal death. Other conditions caused by mumps include meningitis, orchitis, mastitis, pancreatitis, neuritis, arthritis, nephritis, thryroiditis, pericarditis, and deafness.
Mumps parotiditis occurs equally among males and females. Severe mumps disease, however, such as encephalitis, has been observed to occur more frequently among boys than girls. Other gender-specific manifestations are also influenced by age. After puberty, orchitis commonly occurs among males, though sterility rarely results. Among post-pubescent females, mastitis is a common manifestation.
Mumps infection can be confirmed by isolation of the virus from throat swabs, urine, or spinal fluid. Blood tests to detect antibodies to mumps virus can be used to differentiate between a current mumps infection and a previous infection. Skin testing is not reliable.
In countries without mumps vaccination, epidemics occur every two to five years, affecting most frequently those ages five to nine. Mumps
The mumps virus was first identified in 1934. By 1948 a killed virus vaccine was licensed, but it was later discontinued because it did not produce long-lasting immunity. The current mumps vaccine in the United States is a live, attenuated vaccine (the Jeryl-Lynn strain) licensed in December 1967. Since introduction of the Jeryl-Lynn mumps vaccine, the reported number of mumps cases in the United States has decreased dramatically, from over 150,000 in 1968 to 387 cases in 1999 (see Figure 1).
The availability of this vaccine, the use of the combination measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine beginning in 1986, and the two-dose recommendation in 1989 of MMR has immunized many children who would have otherwise have developed mumps disease.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2000). "Mumps." In 2000 Red Book: Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 25th edition, ed. L. K. Pickering. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Baum, S. G., and Litman, N. A. (2000). "Mumps Virus." In Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 5th edition, eds. G. L. Mandell, J. E. Bennett, and R. Dolin. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone.
Plotkin, S. A., and Wharton, M. (1999). "Mumps Vaccine." In Vaccines, 3rd edition, eds. S. A. Plotkin and W. A. Orenstein. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders.