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Is Mumps contagious?

Updated July 08, 2023

mumps disease
Image source: CDC PHIL

The mumps virus is contagious and can be found in the saliva, throat, and urine of an infected person. It is spread through the air by respiratory droplets or by contact with the saliva of an infected person.  The mumps virus has been detected from seven days prior to, and up to fourteen days following the onset of swelling of the parotid gland (parotitis) on one or both sides of the face under the ears and chin. However, the highest viral levels generally occur just prior to the onset of parotitis and decrease quickly. It is generally believed that transmission of the virus typically occurs a few days before and after the onset of parotitis.  A person infected with mumps can spread the virus to others though: 

  • talking, coughing, sneezing
  • improper hand washing
  • sharing utensils or cups

It is also likely that the virus can be transmitted from individuals who are asymptomatic or who show signs of a nonspecific illness. 

Frequently, mumps outbreaks occur where many people live in close proximity to one another, such as close-knit communities, prisons, and college campuses.  Recently, the majority of mumps outbreaks have occurred in fully vaccinated populations.     

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Mumps and the Mumps vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.



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