most wanted virus

Scientific Name


Common Name

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Mumps, a viral disease characterized by “chipmunk cheeks,” was first described by Hippocrates over 2,000 years ago. Prior to introduction of the mumps vaccine (part of the MMR vaccine) in 1967, mumps was a common cause of childhood disease. Although the number of cases has dropped dramatically due to the widespread use of this highly effective vaccine, cases of mumps still occur, such as those in the 2006 outbreak in the Midwest.

Mode of Infection

The mumps virus spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva. If you're not immune, you can contract mumps by breathing in saliva droplets of an infected person who has just sneezed or coughed. You can also contract mumps from sharing utensils or cups with someone who has mumps.


  • Swollen, painful salivary glands on one or both sides of your face
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain wile chewing or swallowing


Because mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics aren't effective. Like most viral illnesses, a mumps infection must simply run its course. Fortunately, most children and adults recover from an uncomplicated case of mumps within about two weeks.

As a general rule, you're no longer considered contagious and may safely return to work or school one week after a diagnosis of mumps.

Likely Victim

Anyone can get mumps, but kids between 5 to 14 years of age are more likely to get it.