Mumps is a contagious viral infection that used to be common in children before the introduction of the MMR vaccine.
It’s most recognisable by the painful swellings at the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands), giving a child with mumps a distinctive “hamster face” appearance.
Other symptoms of mumps include headaches, joint pain and a high temperature, which may develop a few days before the swelling of the parotid glands.
How mumps is spread
Mumps is spread in the same way as colds and flu – through infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces and transferred into the mouth or nose.
A child is most contagious a few days before the symptoms develop and for a few days afterwards.
During this time, it’s important to prevent the infection spreading to others, particularly those who haven’t been vaccinated.
If your child has mumps, you can help prevent it spreading by:
- Encouraging your child to regularly wash their hands with soap
- Ensuring your child uses and disposes of tissues when they sneeze
- Keeping your child off school for at least five days after your child first develops symptoms