What Is Mumps?


Mumps is a viral disease that is contagious. The mumps virus is transmitted through direct contact with infected respiratory secretions, which can be released through coughing or sneezing.Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps.

Signs & Symptoms

The incubation period (how soon the symptoms would appear) is typically 16 to 18 days from the time of exposure but can take as long as 25 days. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling or tenderness of one or more salivary glands close to the jaw

A person with mumps is generally contagious several days before the onset of symptoms and for an additional 5 days after symptoms begin.

What Do I Do?


The CDC recommends that the mumps vaccine (given in combination as MMR or MMRV with measles, mumps, rubella and varicella) is the best way to prevent mumps. Keeping hands clean is the most important step you can take to prevent spreading the illness.

  • Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol
  • based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.
  • Avoid sharing drinking and eating utensils.


Students who develop symptoms or who have questions or concerns should contact the Student Health Center at 202-687-2200 and select option 4. Faculty or staff should consult their personal healthcare provider for any questions or concerns. You may also contact the DC Department of Health Division of Epidemiology-Disease

Surveillance at 202-442-8141 or 202-442-9371. You may need a virus culture or a blood test if your doctor believes that you may have mumps. A blood test can detect the antibodies your immune system makes in order to fight the mumps virus.

If Diagnosed

If diagnosed with mumps, patients will be advised to self-isolate and take steps to help prevent spreading the virus to others, including:

  • Minimize close contact with others, especially those with weakened immune systems who cannot be vaccinated.
  • Stay home from work or class for 5 days after your glands begin to swell, and try not to have close contact with other people who live with you.

University Resources

For further information please see: