What it is: Mumps, a contagious disease that attacks the salivary glands, is a viral infection that is most common in children ages 2-12. The disease has also been known to target the central nervous system, pancreas and testes in men. While painful, the mumps usually isn’t severe in developed countries such as the United States. The disease can still affect adults, and males in particular can suffer damage to their reproductive system.
How it spreads: Like most infectious diseases, the mumps virus spreads through respiratory droplets from the nose, throat and mouth. Infection can also spread via direct contact with items contaminated with an infected person’s saliva.
What it causes: Normal symptoms include:
- Face pain
- Sore throat
- Swelling along the throat and/or between the ear and jaw
- Painful chewing
For men, the disease can show in testicular symptoms such as lumps, localized pain and scrotal swelling. These can lead to urinary and testicular complications including infertility.
What to do: The MMR two-dose immunization series protects against the mumps. The first dose is administered between the ages of 12-15 months and the second at four to six years of age. Generally anyone 18 years of age and older who was born after 1956 should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, unless they can show proof that they have had either the vaccines or the disease.