Facts About Mumps

Columbia University, like many colleges and universities nationwide, sees sporadic cases of mumps. We continue to follow Columbia’s own strong protocols and work with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to ensure that the University community is protected.

Mumps is an infection that causes swelling of the glands (parotitis) in front of the ears, along the jaw, and under the tongue, as well as fever and body aches. Some people do not develop symptoms at all. Rarely, more serious complications of mumps can occur, such as pain and swelling of the testicles, breasts, or ovaries. The rarest complications are hearing loss and inflammation of the brain. Mumps is spread through respiratory droplets (created when you cough and sneeze) and saliva. Sharing cups and utensils may also spread the virus.

The incubation period from infection to presentation of symptoms can be as long as 25 days, but is typically 14-18 days. People with mumps are infectious from three days before to five days after the onset of parotitis. Infected people without symptoms of mumps may still be able to transmit the virus.

The most effective way to protect against the mumps is by getting vaccinated. New York State law requires registered students to demonstrate proof of immunity against mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) before arriving on campus. The majority of Columbia University students have either received the MMR vaccine or have demonstrated immunity through an MMR titer blood test. If you are vaccinated with the MMR vaccine or show immunity through the blood test, your risk of mumps infection is lower; however, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms because even fully vaccinated individuals can contract the disease.

If you have questions or concerns about the MMR vaccine or the symptoms of mumps:


  • Morningside: Students may receive a free vaccine at Columbia Health Medical Services by calling (212) 854-7426.
  • CUMC: Students may schedule an appointment for an MMR vaccine by calling (212) 305-3400.

Faculty and Staff

  • Contact your healthcare provider.

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