Mumps: What’s Causing the Surge in Delhi & How to Protect Yourself?


In recent months, Delhi has witnessed a concerning rise in mumps cases among children and young adults, raising alarms among health authorities and the public alike.

In addition to unvaccinated children, pregnant women are also vulnerable to infection. There’s an elevated risk, especially during the first trimester, which may lead to miscarriage, says experts.

As the city grapples with this uptick, it becomes crucial for individuals to familiarize themselves with the symptoms, causes, prevention strategies, and available treatments for mumps.

What is Mumps?
-Mumps is a contagious viral infection. It causes pain, tenderness, and swelling in one or both parotid salivary glands (cheek and jaw area) [1].
-It is caused by the mumps virus, which is typically spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
-The virus can also be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Once contracted, the virus incubates for about two weeks before symptoms start to appear.

How Will You Know You Have Mumps?
The hallmark symptom of mumps is swollen and tender salivary glands, usually near the ears or jaw. Typically, swelling reaches its peak within 1 to 3 days before gradually reducing over the following week[1].

Other common symptoms include:
-Low-grade fever for 3 to 4 days
-Muscle aches
-Loss of appetite
-Pain while chewing or swallowing

Note: In some cases, mumps can lead to complications such as meningitis, encephalitis, hearing loss, or orchitis (inflammation of the testicles in males).

According to a renowned pediatrician Dr. Megha Kadam, Neonatology & Paediatrics Dept. at Aster Hospital, Bangalore, “Regular gargling with salt water can help relieve pain and swelling of the salivary glands. She further emphasized the importance of vaccines to prevent Mumps.”

Why Are Cases On The Rise?
The surge in mumps cases can be attributed to various factors, including:
a. Incomplete Immunization: Insufficient vaccination coverage or incomplete immunization schedules leave individuals susceptible to mumps infection.
b. Waning Immunity: With growing age, immunity may decrease, leaving individuals susceptible to the virus.
c. Close Contact: According to Pediatricians, mumps spread rapidly in crowded environments, such as schools, colleges, and residential areas, where close contact facilitates transmission.
d. Lack of Awareness: Misinformation or lack of awareness about mumps symptoms, transmission, and preventive measures may contribute to its spread.

Is There A Way To Prevent It?
Preventing mumps relies on a combination of vaccination, hygiene practices, and awareness [1,2]:
a. Don’t Miss the MMR Vaccine: The most effective preventive measure against mumps is vaccination. The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine gives immunity against mumps.

Two doses are recommended:
The first dose at age 12 to 15 months
The second dose at age 4 to 6 years

*Note: The mumps vaccine is a live attenuated virus and should not be administered to pregnant women and women should wait 4 weeks after MMR vaccination to become pregnant [3].

Mumps in Vaccinated People
-People can still get and spread mumps even with one or two MMR vaccine doses [1].

But does that mean the vaccine isn’t effective? No
-Vaccine effectiveness is measured by comparing mumps rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. Typically during outbreaks, unvaccinated individuals have higher mumps rates than the ones vaccinated.
-Vaccinated people also tend to have milder symptoms and fewer complications.

Alarming Note!
MMR has not been included in the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) due to the low mortality rate of mumps.

b. Hygiene is Must: Practicing good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing with soap and water, covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding sharing utensils or drinks, can help reduce the risk of mumps transmission.

c. Isolation Helps: Individuals diagnosed with mumps should isolate themselves from others, especially in crowded settings, until they are no longer contagious (about five days after the onset of symptoms).

Can Mumps Be Treated?
While there is no specific antiviral treatment for mumps, supportive care can help alleviate symptoms and prevent complications [2]:
a. Take Complete Rest: Getting plenty of rest allows the body to fight off the infection more effectively.
b. Consider Pain Relief Medications: Fever and pain when troublesome can be brought down using Paracetamol (10-15mg/kg/day SOS or every 4-6 hours). Always consult your pediatrician before giving any medications to your child.
c. Stay Well Hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids helps prevent dehydration, especially if fever is present. Avoid acidic juices like orange or lime juice as they can worsen the pain.
d. Follow A Soft Diet: Consuming soft foods that require minimal chewing can ease discomfort caused by swollen glands.

Key Takeaways
-Mumps is a viral infection caused by the paramyxovirus and is highly contagious.
-It causes painful swelling of the salivary glands located beneath the ears.
-Mumps is preventable through the MMR vaccine and with good hygiene practices.
-Treatment is supportive care for each presenting symptom. Rest, a simple diet, pain relief medications, and cold or warm compresses for swelling are beneficial.
-Mumps being a viral infection, antibiotics play no role.

(The article is written by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)

1. CDC. Mumps. Available online:,the%20ear%20up%20and%20out.
2. Brenda L. Tesini. Mumps. MSD Manual. 2023. Available online:
3. Davison P, Morris J. Mumps. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. 2024. Available online:

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