Mumps is a viral infection causing swelling of the salivary glands. It is spread through contact with an infected person’s saliva.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a viral infection causing swelling of the salivary glands in the cheeks and neck.

How is mumps spread?

Mumps is spread through spit (salivary) droplets in the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. You can become infected when you breathe in the saliva droplets or touch objects contaminated with the virus. It is best to avoid sharing food or drinks with an infected person.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Symptoms typically occur two to three weeks after you have been exposed to the virus. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever and headache
  • Aches and pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of salivary glands in the cheeks and neck
  • Swollen and painful testicles/ovaries

What are the risks of mumps?

Although complications from mumps are rare, if they do occur they can be serious. Complications can include:

  • Swelling of the brain (encephalitis)
  • Swelling of the brain lining (meningitis) in about 1 in 20 people
  • Swelling of the testicles (1 in 4 males) or ovaries (1 in 20 females) which can cause sterility
  • Permanent deafness (1 in 20,000)
  • Miscarriage if infected in early pregnancy 

How can I prevent getting mumps?

The best way to prevent mumps is to get immunized. The mumps vaccine is combined with the measles and rubella vaccines (MMR) to give protection against all three diseases with one shot. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get mumps disease. When you get immunized you help to protect others as well.

Who should get the mumps vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is given free (publicly funded) as part of the B.C. routine immunization schedule. Older children and adults can receive the vaccine if they have not been immunized and have not had disease.  

Get immunized against mumps by making an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist (for those 5 years and older) or Public Health.

Booking an immunization appointment with Public Health

Residents of Fraser East (Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope), call 604-702-4906

Residents in any other area of Fraser Health, call 604-476-7087 

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)

Note: When making an appointment with Public Health, you will be offered a text message reminder through the ImmunizeBC text message reminder system. 


For more information about mumps and the MMR vaccine, go to: