Monday, March 15, 2010


Mumps is a contagious disease caused by infection with a virus which belongs to the genus Paramyxovirus. The most common symptom of mumps is swollen parotid glands which are the large salivary glands located anterior and inferior to the ear. The mumps virus can be transmitted via the respiratory route (coughing), kissing, and contact with saliva. The virus also survives for short period on surfaces and can be spread by contact.

The incubation period for the mumps virus is 14-25 days with a 3-5 day prodromal period. Involvement of the of the central nervous system is common, but often asymptomatic in children. CNS involvement rarely manifests itself as encephalitis in adults. Shedding of virus in the saliva begins about 6 days prior to onset of symptoms and continues for another 5-9 days.

In postpubertal males, inflammation of the testicles occurs in about 50% of those infected. Sterility rarely results but testicular atrophy is more common.

The mumps virus can also infect the pancreas resulting in the disturbance of endocrine and exocrine functions. This can result in diabetic manifestations and has been hypothesized to be a cause of juvenile insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

The mumps paramyxovirus is enveloped and consists of a single negative sense segment of RNA, 15-19 kb in length containing 6-10 genes. More information on the genome of the mumps virus can be found here.

Mumps can be serologically diagnosed using ELISA to detect mumps-specific antibodies or using RT polymerase chain reaction to detect viral particles in the saliva.

Treatment consists of bed rest and over-the-counter drugs to relieve pain. Aspirin should not be taken, especially in those below the age of 20 due to a link to Reye Syndrome.

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