Mumps virus. © Science Photo Library

Mumps is a viral infection, which in its classical form causes acute parotitis (inflammation of the parotid salivary glands) and less frequently, orchitis, meningitis and pneumonia. Complications include sensorineuronal deafness, oligospermia, subfertility (rarely) and occasionally death from encephalitis. In the pre-vaccine area, mumps was primarily a childhood illness but epidemics among military recruits were not uncommon. The viral aetiology of the disease was identified in 1934 and live attenuated mumps vaccines have been available since the 1960s. Most European countries have had routine childhood mumps immunisation since the 1980s. Vaccination is now administered as a combination vaccination together with the measles and rubella attenuated virus components.

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