Mumps is a common (and highly infectious) viral disease in people, particularly children. Typically it causes flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, aches and sore muscles) as well as painful swelling of the parotid salivary glands. These glands are located within the cheeks near the angle of the jaw, just below the ear. Illness usually lasts for about ten days, but in young adults the infection can cause serious complications, including meningitis and deafness. Because the disease is so infectious, it is recommended that anyone with the mumps be isolated for nine days – that means no going to work, school, the store or anywhere else!
Dogs may actually be able to get mumps too, but it’s very uncommon. Dogs living with recently affected children have been reported to develop similar signs of illness to humans, including fever, not wanting to eat and swollen parotid salivary glands, and antibodies to mumps virus have been found in some dogs. It’s also been shown that the virus grows well in canine cell cultures in the laboratory. However, there are no experimental trials that have definitively demonstrated transmission of mumps to dogs.
Because mumps is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not useful for treating the infection. In dogs suspected of being infected, specific treatment is usually not needed – just some TLC and most dogs recover within 5-10 days. There are no reports of people getting mumps from a dog – this is primarily a disease of humans.
People, but not dogs, can be vaccinated for mumps. The vaccine is part of the MMR (measeles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, which many people receive when they are children. For more information about this disease and vaccination, see the website of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.