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Thursday 22 February
My.Anglia > Student services > Health > Health and wellbeing - Mumps

Health and Wellbeing


What is mumps?

Mumps is a viral infection. It mainly affects the salivary glands, but sometimes other parts of the body are affected. Mumps normally affects children, but can occur at any age. Mumps is normally a mild illness, but complications sometimes occur. This is why immunisation is important.

What are the usual symptoms of mumps?

There may be no symptoms, or only very minor ones. The immune system makes antibodies during the infection. These fight off the virus and then provide lifelong immunity. It is therefore very rare to have more than one episode of mumps.

Common symptoms are:

  • Headache and fever, followed by swelling and pain on one or both parotid glands. (The parotid glands are the main salivary glands. They are just below the ears and you cannot normally see or feel them. The salivary glands make saliva which drains into the mouth.) The swelling of the parotid glands usually lasts 4-8 days.
  • The mouth may feel dry. Chewing and swallowing may be painful.
  • You may feel tired and off your food for a few days.
  • Mild abdominal (tummy) pain may occur.

What are the possible complications of mumps?

  • The testes (testicles) and ovaries are sometimes affected. One testis may become inflamed, swollen and painful for a few days. This affects about 1 in 4 males over the age of 12 (but is uncommon in young children). There is no firm evidence that this causes sterility.
  • Brain inflammation (encephalitis or meningitis) is an uncommon complication. It typically causes drowsiness, headache, stiff neck, avoidance of light and vomiting. Although alarming, meningitis caused by the mumps virus usually clears after a few days without any long-term problems. However, deafness in one ear is a rare long-term problem that can occur.
  • Inflammation of the pancreas, heart and other organs are other rare complications.

Mumps and MMR Vaccination

Mumps is usually a mild condition that settles without any treatment. It is preventable with a MMR vaccination. The NHS has been giving two doses MMR routinely since 1996 so many students would have had two doses. Additionally older students would likely had boosters MMR from their practices.

Make sure youre protected with 2 doses of the MMR (international students should check with your physicians and families). If MMR is needed then this vaccination is available for free from your General Practice.

Mumps is contagious. We advise you to not attend University for one week after you had the initial symptoms. Please do not attend social events or classes if you think you have Mumps, and remain isolated as far as practically possible. Please contact your GP surgery if you believe you have Mumps.

For further information see: