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mumps; fever; sore throat; glands; nausea; swelling; infection; immunisation;


What is mumps? 

Mumps is an infection which affects the glands that make your saliva (the parotid glands). It is caused by a virus called a paramyxovirus (say para- mix- oh-virus).

It can cause swelling of one or both parotid glands (say parrot-id). You can find these if you feel just below and in front of your ears.

What mumps looks like

More than half the children who get mumps don't know they've got it as they don't feel unwell.

feeling unwellThe rest may:

  • feel ill, have a fever, have a headache and not want to eat.
  • have swollen parotid glands after a couple of days. This can be on one or both sides of the face.
  • have worse headaches after a few days.
  • want to be in a darkened room away from bright light.
  • feel nauseous (say nor-see-us) or even throw up. (Nauseous means that you feel like you could throw up).

Usually the swelling goes down after 5 to 10 days.

In very rare cases mumps can lead to other problems. If men or boys who have gone through puberty get mumps they could also get swelling of one or both testes (say test-eez). There is a very small chance that this could stop the male making sperm and having children.

Girls who get mumps after puberty may get the same infection in an ovary, but this doesn't stop them being able to have children.

How mumps spreads

Someone who has mumps is infectious from about 6 days before they start to feel unwell until about 9 days after.

don't drop used tissues on the ground - put them in the binWhen an infected person sneezes or coughs, the droplets of saliva fly out for a very long way. The virus shoots out too and can infect anyone in the area that it lands on.

The droplets can also land on surfaces so it's important to have clean hands before you eat, or put your fingers near your mouth. That's why mumps can spread so rapidly among young children.

Used tissues can also spread viruses, so leaving them lying around is not a good idea. Flushing them down the loo is a good way to get rid of germy tissues.

dispose of used tissues properly

Miss out on mumps

Mumps was thought of as a childhood disease but it can be more dangerous to get mumps when you are older, especially if you have not been immunised against it. 

The best way to miss out on mumps is to be immunised against it. If you were born in Australia then you have probably had the MMR immunisations, (Measles, Mumps and Rubella when you were a baby and again before you started school.

get immunised

The immunisation program has been going for a long time in this country and that is why there are very few people getting sick from these so-called 'childhood' illnesses which used to cause many young children to be really sick or even die.

Always wash your hands before you eat.

Dr Kate says

Dr KateIf you were not born in Australia then check with mum, dad or whoever cares for you to find out if all your immunisations or 'shots' as they are sometimes called, are up to date.

The MMR immunisation is free in Australia, as are many other immunisations which help to keep kids safe from many serious infections which used to make people very sick and even die. We can thank clever scientists and doctors who find ways to keep us safe.

cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough

Head aches, neck swollen too.
I don't know what to do.
I want to throw up
Don't want to get up.
Look in the mirror and see
I look more like a hamster than me!
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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