What are the clinical features of mumps?

Mumps is an acute illness which presents with fever as well as swelling and tenderness of one or both parotid glands. The enlarged parotid glands lift the lower part of the ear. Chewing may be painful due to the swollen glands. Sometimes the submandibular glands (below the jaw) may be involved.

Mumps is infectious and is caused by the droplet spread of mumps virus. Like chickenpox, the incubation period is 2 to 3 weeks. The parotid swelling has usually resolved by 10 days.

The virus can be cultured, and serum antibodies and mumps DNA detected, if the clinical diagnosis needs to be confirmed. This is uncommon. Mumps infection may be asymptomatic. Painless chronic parotid enlargement unrelated to mumps is common with AIDS.

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