Genetic characterization of mumps viruses associated with the resurgence of mumps in the United States: 2015-2017

Virus Res. 2020 May:281:197935. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2020.197935. Epub 2020 Mar 16.


Despite high coverage with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine in the United States, outbreaks of mumps occur in close contact settings such as schools, colleges, and camps. Starting in late 2015, outbreaks were reported from several universities, and by the end of 2017, greater than 13,800 cases had been reported nation-wide. In 2013, the CDC and the Association of Public Health Laboratories contracted four Vaccine Preventable Diseases Reference Centers (VPD-RCs) to perform real-time reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) to detect mumps RNA in clinical samples and to determine the genotype. Twelve genotypes of mumps virus are currently recognized by the World Health Organization, and the standard protocol for genotyping requires sequencing the entire gene coding for the small hydrophobic (SH) protein. Phylogenetic analysis of the 1862 mumps samples genotyped from 2015 through 2017 showed that the overall diversity of genotypes detected was low. Only 0.8 % of the sequences were identified as genotypes C, H, J, or K, and 0.5 % were identified as vaccine strains in genotypes A or N, while most sequences (98.7 %) were genotype G. The majority of the genotype G sequences could be included into one of two large groups with identical SH sequences. Within genotype G, a small number of phylogenetically significant outlier sequences were associated with epidemiologically distinct chains of transmission. These results demonstrate that molecular and epidemiologic data can be used to track transmission pathways of mumps virus; however, the limited diversity of the SH sequences may be insufficient for resolving transmission in all outbreaks.

Keywords: Genotyping; MMR; Molecular epidemiology; Mumps virus; Small hydrophobic gene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Mumps / epidemiology*
  • Mumps virus / genetics*
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*


  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins
  • small hydrophobic protein, Mumps virus