What is Mumps? Mumps is an acute viral disease that is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing. Some people may have no symptoms or very. Mumps: Prevention, Symptoms, and Treatment. Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that passes from one person to another through saliva, nasal secretions, and close personal contact. The hallmark symptom of mumps is swelling of the salivary glands.