Measles and Mumps

Measles and MumpsĀ  are transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes but also by contact with recently contaminated objects such as napkins, handkerchiefs, glasses or dirty hands.




The virus that causes mumps or measles enters the body through the nose or throat. Symptoms occur when the virus multiplies and spreads to the brain and its covering layers, the salivary glands (usually the parotid glands), pancreas, ovaries, testicles and other areas of the body and include:

  • Painful increase in volume of one or both parotid glands, one or both cheeks may be swollen, about 30-40% of infected persons present these symptoms that is considered by many a characteristic sign of the disease although it may appear in other diseases
  • Fever between 38-40 degrees C
  • Headaches (headaches), ear pain, dry throat feeling and pain when swallowing or opening your mouth
  • Pain felt when eating sour foods or beverages such as juice or citrus
  • Fatigue with muscle or joint pain
  • Lack of appetite and vomiting.

Approximately one third of those infected have any of these symptoms, especially children under 2 years. Those infected can spread the virus around 7 to 9 days after symptoms appear. The incubation period (time period between infection and when symptoms appear) is usually 16-18 days although it can be and more than 25 days.

During the evolution of the disease complications can occur whose symptoms are neck rigidity or severe headache (indicating meningitis) and testes increased in volume, sensitive and painful (indicating orchitis – affecting testis), diffuse abdominal pain that may indicate pancreatitis or inflammation of the ovary.




Mumps and measles are often diagnosed by history of exposure to disease and symptoms such as swollen parotid glands and sensitive. If needed, a blood test may be taken that can confirm the diagnosis. This test measures the level of antibodies produced by the body against the virus that causes disease. It can be identified by viral culture from a sample of urine, saliva or cerebrospinal fluid obtained by lumbar puncture.


Treatment – Generalities


In uncomplicated cases mumps or measles is treated by rest in bed and home care. Home treatment includes medicines that can be bought without prescription and are used to reduce fever and pain. Common flue medicine or other NSAIDs (Advil, Motrin, Alevis) are frequently used. Aspirin is not to be given to patients younger than 20 years because it can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.

Complications require hospitalization. When there are complications such as orchitis, meningitis and pancreatitis, they are treated with pain killers (reducing pain). Taking other medicines such as interferon for severe orchitis is in experimental stage. Do not use antibiotics.


Hospital treatment


Children with mumps or measles should not go to kindergarten, school or other public places for 9 days after the onset of the disease (increase in size of parotid glands) or 3 days after the glands returned to normal size. It is not necessary for the patient to be separated from the rest of the family because the family has been already exposed. To reduce headache is given flue medicine, do not administer antibiotic to people younger than 20 years because it can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.

Measles or mumps determine the increase in volume of the gland and if this is painful apply ice or warm compresses (choose the method that best suits the patient). Between the skin and cool or warm compress a thin towel will be placed to protect skin. These compresses are to be maintained for up to 20 minutes. On inflamed testicles you may apply a cold compress intermittently or you can try a gentle method of support.

It is recommended sucking ice cream bars, ice or frozen lollipops. Most food must be liquid, if not easy to chew. Sour foods and liquids should be avoided. Because of infection, salivary glands are very sensitive and swallowing food can be difficult. New cases of mumps should be reported by the physician.