How mumps is spread
Mumps is an airborne virus and can be spread by:
- an infected person coughing or sneezing and releasing tiny droplets of contaminated saliva, which can then be breathed in by another person
- an infected person touching their nose or mouth, then transferring the virus onto an object, such as a door handle, or work surface; if someone else touches the object shortly afterwards, they can transfer the virus into their respiratory tract
- sharing utensils, such as cups, cutlery or plates with an infected person
People with mumps are usually most infectious from a few days before their parotid glands swell until a few days afterwards. For this reason, it's advisable to avoid work or school for 5 days after your symptoms first develop if you're diagnosed with mumps.
Mumps can also be passed on by people who are infected with the virus but don't have any obvious symptoms.