What are the risks of getting mumps?

Mumps is spread from person to person. Anyone who has not been fully vaccinated or has not previously had mumps can catch the disease. In Canada, people who were born before 1970 will likely have had mumps already. Although mumps is commonly thought of as a childhood disease, teenagers and adults can also catch it if they are not immune.

Some people may increase their risk of being exposed to mumps because of their work or leisure environments. For example, people born in Canada after 1970 have a higher risk if they are:

  • travellers to places outside North America,
  • secondary and post-secondary students in an educational setting,
  • health care personnel,
  • military personnel in close contact with someone who has mumps.

What if there is a mumps outbreak?

If there is a mumps outbreak in your community, you are at risk of getting mumps if you have not been fully immunized or already had mumps. Speak to your health care provider about getting the vaccine.

What are the risks of complications from mumps?

Mumps is not usually serious, but sometimes the virus may cause complications in children and adults. These include the following conditions, most of which are rare:

  • inflammation of the testicles (orchitis),
  • inflammation of the breasts (mastitis),
  • inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis),
  • inflammation of the brain (encephalitis),
  • inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis),
  • temporary hearing loss or permanent deafness, or
  • fetal loss during the first three months of pregnancy.

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