Menu Close

Mumps virus (Orthorubulavirus)

A big RNA virus

The orthorubulavirus, more commonly known as “mumps virus”, is an enveloped RNA virus, which has a helical1 capsid. It has a small genome of 16,000 to 20,000 base pairs and a virion with a diameter of 150 to 300 nm. It is therefore one of the largest RNA viruses along with arenaviruses (Lassa virus, for example).


The mumps virus is spread by contact with saliva infected with tiny droplets that spread into the air around you when you sneeze, cough, sing or talk. Mumps2 is usually manifested in a headache, fever and swelling of the salivary glands which are painful. In boys or men, a painful swelling of the testicles is also possible, called orchitis3. This disease can cause complications including deafness or meningitis. Fortunately, an effective vaccine is available, usually in combination with the vaccine against rubella and measles viruses (MMR vaccine).