Mumps General Info

Mumps is a viral illness transmitted by respiratory droplets and saliva. Incubation period ranges from 12-25 days. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides (parotitis). Infected individuals are typically contagious two days prior to parotitis onset until five days after. The most common complication in the post-vaccine era is orchitis.  Less common side effects include mastitis, oophoritis, pancreatitis, deafness, meningitis, and encephalitis.

Two doses of MMR vaccine do not provide 100% protection against mumps; one dose is about 78% effective and two doses are about 88% effective.

Mumps RT-PCR by buccal swab (offered by commercial labs) is optimal for diagnosis.  During concern for an outbreak or if mumps is suspected in a traveler or group setting (such as university), testing can be requested at the IDPH lab after CDPH consultation.  
Specimen Collection Instructions:
  1. The preferred specimen is a parotid gland duct swab collected within 9 days (ideally 1-3 days) from parotitis onset.
  2. Massage the parotid (salivary) glands for 30 seconds.
  3. The swab specimen needs to be collected from the buccal cavity near Stensen’s duct, typically near the upper rear molars, between the cheek and teeth, though anatomy can be distorted with parotid gland swelling. Sweep the swab between the cheek and gum near the upper molar to the lower molar area. Synthetic swabs are preferred, such as a commercial product designed for the collection of throat specimens or a flocked polyester fiber swab.
  4. For sending to commercial lab: Call lab to confirm specimen criteria. Local labs that accept specimens for RT-PCR are below. In general, swabs should be placed in 3 ml of standard viral transport medium (VTM) or viral culture medium (VCM) and remain for at least 1 hour at 4°C. The swab can be broken off and left in the tube or discarded.
Lab Test Code Test Type Specimen Material Shipping
Quest Diagnostics 70172 RNA PT-PCR

Oral/Buccal Swab

Polyester Swab

VCM Green Cap In 3ml of media

Refrigerated 7 days Frozen 30 Days

Polyester Swab

VTM Red Cap

Refrigerated 7 Days Frozen 30 Days Sent to ARUP for processing (6 days)
ARUP 2009387 RNA RT-PCR Oral/Buccal Swab Polyester Swab VTM Red Cap In 3ml of media Refrigerated 7 Days Frozen 30 Days
CDC specimen collection instructions:

Infection control and patient counseling:

  • Consider masking patients in the waiting room if they endorse or screen positive for cheek/jaw swelling.
  • If mumps is suspected, provide surgical masks to the patient while awaiting laboratory results and counsel patients to wear the mask around others (including around family members) and avoid congregate settings for 5 days from the onset of parotitis.

Mumps Reporting

Suspect Cases should be reported within 24 hours.  

Do not wait for laboratory confirmation.

Complete the : Mumps Case Report Form
Fax Form To: (312)-746-6388
or Call the Provider Reporting Line: (312)-743-9000

Sign up for electronic reporting through the

Illinois National Electronic Disease & Surveillance System (I-NEDSS)

Mumps Contact Us

For Questions Contact:


For Surveillance Questions Contact:

Enrique Ramirez, VPD epidemiologist


For questions during non-business hours call 311. (312-744-5000 if outside the City of Chicago.)

Reporting:  Suspect Cases should be reported within 24 Hours.  Do not wait for laboratory confirmation.