mumps (epidemic parotitis), acute contagious viral disease, manifesting itself chiefly in pain and swelling of the salivary glands, especially those at the angle of the jaw. Other symptoms are fever, a general feeling of illness, and pain on chewing or swallowing. Mumps most often affects children between the ages of 5 and 15, the incubation period being 14 to 21 days; the acute phase rarely lasts more than 3 days. The disease is usually more severe in adults, the most common complications being pain and swelling of the testes (in 20% of adult male patients) and swelling of the meninges that cover the brain and spinal cord (in about 30% of cases). Sterility resulting from involvement of the testes and fatalities from the meningoencephalitis occur in a small minority of male cases. Other possible complications include pancreatitis and involvement of the heart or thyroid. The ovaries are sometimes affected in females. Treatment consists mainly of bed rest, intake of fluids, and the administration of analgesics. A live virus vaccine has been developed that can be given to susceptible children at 15 months.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.