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11 August 2023

Causative agent

It is caused by the Mumps virus which affects the salivary glands and nerve tissues sometimes.

Clinical features

All ages may be affected although more common in children over 1 year old. It is characterised by painful swelling of the salivary glands, usually at the cheek(s). Sometimes, there may be complications like deafness, or infection of brain, pancreas, testicles or ovary.

Mode of transmission

It is spread by droplet and by direct contact with the saliva of an infected person. A patient can spread the disease to other non-immune persons from 2 days before overt swelling of salivary glands to 5 days after the swelling.

Incubation period

It ranges from 12 – 25 days, usually 18 days.


There is no specific treatment but drugs may be prescribed to reduce discomfort.


1. Maintain good personal hygiene
  • Perform hand hygiene frequently, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, after touching public installations such as handrails or door knobs or when hands are contaminated by respiratory secretion after coughing or sneezing. Wash hands with liquid soap and water, and rub for at least 20 seconds. Then rinse with water and dry with a disposable paper towel or hand dryer. If hand washing facilities are not available, or when hands are not visibly soiled, hand hygiene with 70 to 80% alcohol-based handrub is an effective alternative.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with tissue paper when sneezing or coughing. Dispose of soiled tissues into a lidded rubbish bin, then wash hands thoroughly.
  • When having respiratory symptoms, wear a surgical mask, refrain from work or school, avoid going to crowded places and seek medical advice promptly.
  • Affected children are advised to stay away from school for 5 days from the onset of swelling to prevent the spread of the disease.
2. Maintain good environmental hygiene
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as furniture, toys and commonly shared items with 1:99 diluted household bleach (mixing 1 part of 5.25% bleach with 99 parts of water), leave for 15 – 30 minutes, and then rinse with water and keep dry. For metallic surface, disinfect with 70% alcohol.
  • Use absorbent disposable towels to wipe away obvious contaminants such as respiratory secretions, and then disinfect the surface and neighbouring areas with 1:49 diluted household bleach (mixing 1 part of 5.25% bleach with 49 parts of water), leave for 15 – 30 minutes and then rinse with water and keep dry. For metallic surface, disinfect with 70% alcohol.
  • Maintain good indoor ventilation. Avoid going to crowded or poorly ventilated public places; high-risk individuals may consider putting on surgical masks while in such places.
3. Immunisation
  • An effective vaccine against mumps is available. Under the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme, children receive a two-dose course of mumps vaccination (Please refer to the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme).