Mumps is a disease that is caused by the mumps virus. The symptoms usually begin 16 to 18 days after the patient is exposed to the virus. Symptoms typically resolve seven to ten days later. The symptoms have been observed to be more severe in adults compared to children. Approximately 33% of those infected have mild or no symptoms. Mumps is a highly contagious infection that spreads quickly among those who live in close quarters. It is transmitted through direct contact or respiratory droplets. Individuals are infectious approximately seven days before the symptoms start and eight days after. Once the infection resolves, the affected individual is immune for life. Reinfection produces mild to no symptoms. The diagnosis of mumps is confirmed through the isolation of virus on a swab of the parotid duct. It is a preventable disease if the mumps vaccine is administered.
Almost all parts of the developed world have included mumps in their national vaccination program usually in combination with rubella, measles, and varicella vaccine. Low immunization rates often result in increased cases among older age groups with poorer prognosis. Treatment for mumps revolve around control of symptoms with pain medication and intravenous immunoglobulin. Without immunization, 0.1 to 1% of the population are affected annually. The introduction of the mumps vaccine resulted in a decrease of more than 90% of cases. However, outbreaks can still occur in a vaccinated population most commonly among those in their early 20s.
Mumps Symptom #1: Fever
Fever is the elevation of the set point of body temperature. When the set point of body temperature increases, it causes the body to try to achieve that temperature by producing heat through muscle contractions and conserving heat. This leads to the sensation of cold. Fever is a non-specific symptom seen in many conditions especially in infections.
It is the body’s natural response to fight an infection by increasing the body temperature as it enhances the ability of the immune system. Since mumps is a viral infection, a fever can occur. The fever in these patients usually subside within 7 days, before the swelling of the parotid gland resolves.