Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection that causes swollen salivary glands and a high fever. The rubulavirus which causes mumps is passed through air droplets and contact with the saliva of an infected person.
Although mumps is usually a mild disease, it can cause serious complications, including infections of the testicles, ovaries, pancreas, liver, brain and heart. Hearing loss can occur due to nerve damage, and in rare cases mumps can cause sterility in men. One in 200 children with mumps will develop encephalitis, a dangerous inflammation of the brain.
Prior to the introduction of universal vaccination in the early 1980s, mumps was a common disease among Australian children. Although the incidence of childhood mumps has significantly declined, there has been an increase in infections among adolescents and young adults who were not fully vaccinated against the virus.
Mumps is highly contagious and can spread rapidly among people living in close quarters. The virus is most commonly spread from one person to another through contact with infected saliva or respiratory secretions.
It takes between 12 and 25 days for the symptoms of mumps to appear after infection. As well as swelling on the sides of the face and along the jaw-line, mumps can cause chills and fever, headache, loss of appetite, and aching muscles.
Two doses of mumps vaccine, recommended as part of routine childhood immunisation, provide a highly effective defence against mumps infection. The mumps vaccine is free on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule. To receive mumps immunisation, visit your local doctor or immunisation provider. It is important to note that although the vaccine is provided at no cost, a consultation fee may apply.
Immunisation against mumps is achieved using the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) combination vaccines. The first dose is given at 12 months of age as the MMR vaccine, and the second dose is given at 18 months of age as the MMRV vaccine. Under the NIP, the schedule for vaccination against these diseases is:
- 12 months of age: measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- 18 months of age: measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (MMRV)
- four years of age: children will still require a vaccine to protect against other serious infections including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and polio.
However, if your child was aged over 18 months at 1 July 2013, they will receive the second dose atfour years of age as the MMR vaccine, as per the previous NIP schedule. This schedule point will remain until 31 December 2015.
The MMRV vaccine reduces the total number of injections for children by one, and will provide earlier two-dose protection for children against measles, mumps and rubella.
- For information about immunisation in your area, contact your state or territory health department.
- For further information on routine childhood immunisation, refer to the understanding childhood immunisation booklet.
- For technical information or information about vaccines, refer to the mumps section of the Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th edition 2013.
- For more information on the MMRV vaccine for parents please see the MMRV parent brochure.
- For more information on the MMRV vaccine for immunisation providers please see the MMRV information for providers booklet.