The mumps virus belongs to the Paramyxoviridae family, which also encompasses parainfluenza virus serotypes 1-4, measles, respiratory syncytial virus, and metapneumovirus. Mumps is highly contagious, primarily transmitted through inhaling infected respiratory droplets or secretions. After an incubation period of around two weeks, symptoms typically manifest suddenly, including low-grade fever, headache, and malaise.
One of the defining characteristics of mumps is painful swelling of the salivary glands, which occurs in approximately 60% to 70% of infections and in 95% of symptomatic patients. Additionally, postpubertal men may experience testicular pain (orchitis) in 15% to 30% of cases, while postpubertal women may have abdominal pain (oophoritis) in 5% of cases. Other complications are infrequent but can include mumps-associated pancreatitis (in less than 5% of cases) and central nervous system diseases, such as meningitis (in less than 10%) and encephalitis (in less than 1%).
Widespread immunization of infants with attenuated mumps virus has significantly reduced reported cases in the United States, but outbreaks still occur, suggesting the virus persists in the population. Laboratory diagnosis typically involves detecting IgM- and IgG-class antibodies to the mumps virus. However, in clinically suspected acute mumps cases, serologic testing should be supplemented with virus isolation in culture or detection of viral nucleic acid via polymerase chain reaction testing in throat, saliva, or urine specimens.
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