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Mumps is most common in children.

Mumps is most common in children.
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Mumps is a contagious viral infection that is most common in children between five and 15 years of age. These days it’s rarely seen because of effective immunisation.

Mumps is most recognisable by the painful swellings located at the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands), giving a person with mumps a distinctive 'hamster face' appearance.

Other symptoms include headache, joint pain and a high temperature.

What causes mumps?

Mumps is caused by the mumps virus, which belongs to a family of viruses known as 'paramyxoviruses'. It's spread by close contact or by coughing and sneezing. Paramyxoviruses are a common source of infection, particularly in children.

When you get mumps, the virus moves from your respiratory tract (your nose, mouth and throat) into your parotid glands (the glands that produce saliva), where it begins to reproduce. This causes inflammation and swelling of the glands.

The virus can less commonly also enter your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is the fluid that surrounds and protects your brain and spine. Once the virus has entered the CSF, it can spread to other parts of your body, such as your brain, pancreas, testes (in boys and men) and ovaries (in girls and women).

Please see your doctor if symptoms persist or you are concerned.

Last reviewed: August 2017

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Mumps is an acute viral illness caused by the mumps virus. However it is now uncommon in Australia due to immunisation programs.

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Mumps is an infection of the salivary glands caused by the mumps virus. The most common gland affected is the parotid gland which causes swelling at the angle of the jaw in front of the ear.

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Mumps is a contagious viral infection that occurs mainly in school-aged children. Immunisation withmumps containingvaccine prevents the disease. People with mumps should stay away from others for nine days after the onset of swelling of the salivary glands.

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