Mumps factsheet


Mumps is a virus that causes fever and swelling in your child’s salivary glands. 

The salivary glands are found in the mouth and make saliva, or spit, to:

  • keep the mouth moist
  • help with eating and digesting food
  • protect the teeth and gums
  • protect the mouth and throat from infection.

The virus is spreads quickly when infected fluid droplets come into contact with your child’s mouth or nose. Infected fluid droplets are released into the air and onto objects from coughing and sneezing when you are sick. The mumps virus can also live in urine or wee.

Mumps is a serious illness that can cause complications like:

  • hearing loss
  • infertility – when you cannot get pregnant, or get another person pregnant
  • encephalitis or meningitis – infection and swelling in and around the brain.

Mumps is rare in Australia because of vaccination, but outbreaks still happen throughout the country.

 Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of mumps will usually show up 14 to 25 days after your child has been infected. Symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • sleepiness and loss of energy
  • weight loss
  • swollen salivary glands
  • pain when chewing and swallowing.

The swelling from mumps can spread to other areas of the body, including the:

  • testicles
  • ovaries
  • brain
  • pancreas
  • liver
  • thyroid 
  • heart 
  • breast tissue
  • muscle tissue.

One in three children who get mumps do not have any symptoms and don't realise they are sick. They can still spread the virus to others.


See your local doctor as soon as possible if you think your child is showing signs of mumps.

The doctor will be able to diagnose mumps by:

  • checking your child’s medical, travel and vaccination history
  • doing a physical examination and checking your child’s symptoms
  • taking a blood sample for testing
  • taking a swab of the nose and throat for testing.


Children with mumps without other complications will usually be unwell for around 14 days. 

Mumps can be managed at home with:

  • bed rest
  • drinking fluids
  • eating soft foods that are easy to swallow, like soup and porridge
  • using a cold compress on swollen glands
  • over-the-counter pain relief for aches and fever.

Your child must isolate while they have mumps to prevent it from spreading to anyone else. This means your child should stay home, away from others. 

Mumps is usually still contagious while there is swelling in your child’s face. Speak to your local doctor if you are unsure whether your child can return to school or daycare.

See your local doctor as soon as possible if your child:

  • starts to have pain anywhere other than the face
  • has a high fever that does not go down after 72 hours
  • looks like they are getting sicker.


Mumps vaccine

Mumps can be prevented with two doses of the mumps vaccine, given at least four weeks apart.

The mumps vaccine is included in the National Immunisation Program Schedule for children in Australia, which means the vaccination is free.

Children can get the mumps vaccine at:

  • 12 months of age  in the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine 
  • 18 months of age – in the combined measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine.

The mumps vaccine is available as a catch-up for anyone who has not been fully vaccinated.

This includes:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • refugees and asylum seekers over the age of 10
  • babies under six months who are travelling to areas with known mumps outbreaks.

Side effects from vaccines are uncommon and usually mild but may include:

  • pain and swelling where the needle was injected
  • a faint, red rash
  • swollen throat glands
  • a low temperature
  • feeling unsettled and sleepy.

Speak to your local doctor if you have any questions or concerns about the mumps vaccine.

Not every child can have the mumps vaccine. Speak to your doctor if your child is undergoing cancer treatment or taking medication that lowers their body’s ability to fight illness and infection.

See also: Measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine decision aid.

Stopping the spread of mumps

The best way to stop the spread of mumps is to get vaccinated.

If you are caring for a child with mumps, you will need to practise strict hygiene. 

This includes:

  • washing hands frequently with soap and water, always before and after handling and preparing food, going to the toilet, and changing your child’s nappy
  • not sharing cups, water bottles and cutlery
  • encouraging your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inside of their elbow.
Last updated Friday 19th January 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024