Mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by the mumps virus. Mumps typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands. Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps.
Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Items used by an infected person, such as glasses and cups, or items mouthed by infants, such as toys, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared. In addition, the virus may spread when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and someone else then touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose.
Most mump transmission likely occurs before the salivary glands begin to swell. Persons with mumps are considered most infectious from 1-2 days before until 5 days after the salivary glands begin to swell. The CDC recommends isolating mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell.