Mumps is an infection with a virus that causes swelling of the parotid glands in front of each ear. The parotid glands make saliva. Mumps is caused by the mumps virus, a type of paramyxovirus that spreads from person to person through coughs, sneezes and saliva, as well as through contact with contaminated items and surfaces (used tissues, shared drinking glasses, dirty hands that touched a runny nose). 
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