About Mumps Virus (Mumps)

Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the parotid glands (salivary glands) and is typically recognized by swelling near the jaw.

How is it transmitted?

Mumps can spread when sick individuals cough or sneeze. People may also contract mumps by touching their mouth or nose after touching something contaminated with the virus (e.g. doorknobs, tables, cups, an infected person's hand, etc.).

Signs and symptoms

Many people who get mumps experience very mild to no symptoms and might not know they are infected. Common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, orchitis (inflamed testicles) and parotitis (swollen and tender salivary glands). Symptoms generally appear 16-18 days after infection, but this can range from 12-25 days.


Currently, there is no treatment for mumps other than supportive care through relief of symptoms (e.g. pain management). People with suspected mumps should stay at home and away from others for at least 5 days or until their diagnosis is confirmed (i.e. self-isolate). This is an important prevention strategy to avoid the spread of mumps.


Vaccination is the most effective way to protect oneself against mumps. Although mumps is part of the required immunizations for Penn students, one may still be exposed to the disease through contact with unvaccinated individuals. The easiest thing for students to do is to get the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, if they have not already received it.

If you think you have mumps or have been in close contact with someone who has confirmed mumps, please contact Student Health Service 215-746-3535, press option 3 to speak with a nurse.

Practice good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow
  • Self-isolate if you suspect you have mumps




Back to Disease Updates

(updated 8/7/2015)