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Mumps

Mumps is a serious and highly infectious viral disease which is prevented by a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination

For extra resources for the mumps outbreak in Auckland, visit our dedicated page.

What are the symptoms and complications?

  • 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. 
  • Most people recover from mumps however some individuals can develop rare complications.  Men and adolescent boys can experience pain and swelling in their testicles, which in rare cases can result in infertility. Females can experience ovarian inflammation. For pregnant women there is risk of miscarriage in the first three months. 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).

Protecting yourself and others from mumps 

  • The best way to protect against mumps is to be vaccinated with two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
  • In New Zealand MMR vaccination is routinely given at age 15 months and again at four years. However, during an outbreak children are eligible for their first MMR vaccine at 12 months and can get a second MMR four weeks later. 
  • Contact your doctor if you are unsure if you have been vaccinated, or if you need to catch-up with a second dose.  MMR vaccination is free for those who have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine.

How is mumps spread?

  • The virus spreads from an infected person by saliva or mucous droplets when coughing, sneezing, or talking, or by touching objects infected by saliva or mucous such as a used tissue or toys.

Who is immune to mumps?

Establishing mumps immunity
You are considered immune if: 
  • born prior to 1982, or
  • diagnosed with mumps by a doctor previously, or
  • you have received two documented doses of MMR vaccine, or
  • you have had blood tests which confirm immunity to mumps 
You are not considered immune if:
  •  you have not received two documented doses of MMR vaccine, or
  • you have a weakened immune system, or
  • you are a child aged less than 15 months, as you will have not received the MMR vaccine or
  • you are a child 15 months to four years, as it is likely you will have had only one dose of MMR vaccine


Who is most at risk of catching mumps?

People who are high risk are those who are more susceptible to catching mumps because they have not received (or are unable to receive) two doses of the MMR vaccine to make them immune. For example:  
  • Children under 15 months of age
  • People allergic to components of the MMR vaccine i.e. gelatine or the antibiotic neomycin 
  • Pregnant women who are not immune to mumps
People with a weakened immune system (immune-compromised) can become seriously ill and develop severe complications. These people include: 
  • transplant patients 
  • those with illnesses such as  leukaemia or HIV
  • cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • people taking high-dose steroid or immune suppressive medication 

Recent statistics

Age distribution of mumps cases (conf/prob)


Mumps epi curve and cumulative count (conf/prob)



If you suspect you have mumps phone your doctor, please call ahead so they can isolate you from others in the waiting room.

For general advice on mumps please contact Healthline on 0800 611 116

For information on immunisation call the Immunisation Advisory Centre on 0800 Immune or visit www.immune.org.nz
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