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Mumps - Information for the public

There is currently a mumps outbreak  mostly in the Auckland region, but affecting other parts of New Zealand.

What is mumps?

  • Mumps is an infection caused by a virus affecting the saliva glands in the lower cheek area. Symptoms include a fever, headache and swelling over the cheek or jaw area on one or both sides of the face.  It is usually a mild illness that lasts about one week but can, on rare occasions, have serious complications.

  • Most people recover from mumps however some individuals can develop rare complications.  Men and adolescent boys can experience pain and swelling in their testicles (orchitis), rarely this can lead to infertility. Females can experience ovarian inflammation (oophritis).  In some people mumps can cause permanent hearing loss. In very few cases, mumps can lead to inflammation of the brain and surrounding tissue (meningitis).

  • Pregnant women are at greater risk of miscarriage if infected with mumps during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

  • Mumps is spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing and symptoms appear two to three weeks after coming into contact with someone with mumps. Some people have no symptoms from this infection and can spread the disease to other people despite being well.

Who is at risk of mumps infection?

  • People are at risk of getting mumps if they are not immune to mumps. People who are regarded as not immune to mumps are:

  • Born after 1981 (mumps was common before then) and are not up to date with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

What should you do?

  • Ensure you are up to date with your immunisations. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are required and, in New Zealand, are usually given at 15 months and 4 years of age. MMR vaccination is free for anyone who requires it.

  • Be aware of the symptoms of mumps. Early symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. The salivary glands on one or both sides of the face, cheeks or jaw may become swollen and sore after two days.

If you develop symptoms of mumps:

  • Stay at home and away from public places (such as sports events, gatherings, parties, school, work, child care, shopping centres, public transport and so on).

  • See your GP as soon as possible so a diagnosis can be confirmed.  However, phone the clinic ahead to alert them of your symptoms and to allow them to make arrangements to assess you safely and without infecting other people.

  • If you are unable to visit your GP phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.

Further information:

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