Mumps is an acute viral infection that used to be very common in childhood before vaccination was introduced.
Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes droplets in the air. It is also spread directly via saliva.
Signs and symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Tiredness and headaches
- Swelling and tenderness of the salivary glands
- Swelling of one or both of the parotid salivary glands; these are located below the ears, near the cheeks and jawline
Some people do not show any symptoms at all.
While mumps is usually mild, if it becomes more serious it can cause complications that affect organs such as the testicles, ovaries, heart and brain.
Vaccination recommendations and coverage
All children older than 12 months old are recommended to have 2 doses of mumps-containing vaccines.
Children get a mumps vaccine at:
- 12 months of age
- 18 months of age.
Vaccination coverage rates for mumps are better in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children compared to other children at 60 months.
Who is most affected?
While mumps is rare, it can occur at any age. A number of outbreaks occurred in Australia between 2015 and 2018 that mainly affected Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander adolescents and young adults living in remote communities.
How common is it?
Between 2016 and 2019, 2422 cases of mumps were reported in Australia, with 1466 (60.5%) of these occurring in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. There were 37.0 cases of mumps per 100,000 population per year in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, a much higher rate than that for other Australians (1.0 per 100,000 per year). Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 years had the highest rates of mumps, with 73.1 notifications per 100,000 population per year.
There were 472 hospital admissions for mumps during the 2016–2019 period, of which 102 (21.6%) were recorded as being in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. Hospitalisation rates were highest among Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander adolescents and young adults aged 15–24 years.
There were 1–5 deaths where mumps was reported as an underlying or associated cause of death; all of these were among people aged 50 years or older. No deaths were recorded as being in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.