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Causes and Risk Factors

You’ve probably heard of mumps without knowing exactly what it is. Mumps, also known as epidemic parotitis, is still common in many parts of the world and most commonly occurs in children ages 2 - 12. Outbreaks of mumps still occur in the United States (although your odds of contracting mumps are not high). In fact, Mumps is less contagious than measles or chickenpox. But what are the mumps? And what happens to people who get a case of the mumps?

What is the mumps?
Mumps is a viral infection that mainly affects the parotid glands, a pair of salivary glands located below and in front of the ears. Mumps is contagious and the disease can lead to painful swelling in one or both parotid glands. People who contract mumps usually experience minimal discomfort and quick recovery, even if other organs are involved. Infection of other organs may occur, including orchitis. Mumps may also infect the:

  • central nervous system
  • pancreas
  • testes

The time between being exposed to the virus and getting sick (also called the incubation period) is usually 12 – 24 days. Then, mumps is contagious from three days before until five days after the onset of swelling. After the illness, you usually develop a life long immunity to the mumps. *

Even though most cases of mumps are not serious, rare cases of complications are possible. But what causes the mumps in the first place? Click here to learn more about what causes mumps and what groups of people are most likely to get the mumps virus.

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Tags: complications, contagious, infection, swelling, Recovery, affects, glands, period, contagious disease, about children, being strong, about your health
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