The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency is asking health care providers to be on alert for potential exposures to mumps, particularly in Hillsdale County. The suspect case occurred in an out-of-state camper who was attending a local camp.


While Michigan has reported cases of mumps in recent years, Hillsdale County has not experienced a case since 2008. Mumps is a highly contagious illness spread by contact with an infected person through coughing, sneezing, sharing utensils and other personal contact. People with the mumps usually feel sick with symptoms, such as headache, loss of appetite and a low grade fever. Infection with mumps virus may also present with severe abdominal pain or pelvic pain. The most notable symptom is the swelling of the salivary glands below the ears which gives the appearance of ‘chipmunk cheeks.’

While mumps is usually a mild disease, complications can occur and include:

  • Meningitis, which can occur in up to 15% of all cases.
  • Swelling in the groin area in adult males, accompanied by nausea, vomiting and tenderness, which rarely causes sterility.
  • Increased risk of miscarriages during the first trimester for exposed expectant mothers.
  • Deafness in one or both ears can occur in approximately 1 per 20,000 reported cases.

The tri-county health department urges immunization to protect against and prevent the spread of mumps. People should check their immunization status with their health care provider.

The incubation period of mumps is about 12 to 26 days from exposure to onset of symptoms. People are contagious from seven days before onset of swelling and up to five days after. People who are infected with the mumps virus but have mild illness or no symptoms can still pass the virus to others.

Doctors should consider mumps in their diagnosis if they have a patient with swollen parotid glands for two or more days and submit a specimen for laboratory confirmation. They should also notify the health department of any suspect cases. People who have mumps or are suspected of having mumps should notify their physician and follow medical directions. They should also stay home until five days after the symptoms have appeared.

Vaccination, even shortly before or after exposure, may prevent the disease or lessen the symptoms in people who are infected with mumps. There is no treatment for mumps, only supportive care, such as bed rest, fluids and fever reducing medications.