Mumps is an acute viral illness, and a few cases occur each year in New Zealand.


  • Mumps causes swelling in the glands around the face.
  • It can lead to meningitis in about 1 in 10 people.

Mumps is spread through the air by breathing, coughing and sneezing, or through contact with infected saliva (ie, kissing, sharing food and drink).

If you’ve caught mumps, it usually takes 12–25 days before you get sick. You’ll be infectious from 1 week before swelling appears until 5 days after.

Stop mumps spreading

If your child has mumps, they should be kept home from school or early childhood services for 5 days after swelling develops. This will help prevent the spread of mumps in your community. If your child is still unwell after this 5 days they should remain at home until they are well.

Information for health professionals

Public health advice on mumps for health professionals.


If you or your child has mumps, the symptoms are:

  • pain in the jaw
  • fever
  • headache
  • swelling of the glands around the face.


It’s important to protect children from mumps by getting them immunised on time. They’re not protected until they’ve had both doses.


All children in New Zealand can be immunised against mumps as part of their free childhood immunisations at 15 months and 4 years old.


This disease is covered on the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule. The vaccine used is M-M-R® II.

Making a decision about immunisation

Risks associated with mumps

  • In about 1 in 10 people it causes meningitis, but it is usually relatively mild.
  • It causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in about 1 in 6000 people, of whom 1 in 100 will die, and nerve deafness in 1 in 15,000 people.
  • If infected after puberty, 1 in 5 males gets testicle inflammation and 1 in 20 females gets ovary inflammation. In rare cases this leads to infertility.

Risks associated with the vaccine

  • Aseptic mumps meningitis occurs in 1 in 800,000 vaccine recipients. This is less severe than the illness caused by the mumps virus.

Immunisation is your choice. If you have questions, talk to your doctor or practice nurse or call the Immunisation Advisory Centre free helpline 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

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