The NHL's Curious Case: The Mumps

It’s got many teams going through precautions and affecting many players already throughout the NHL.

Usually associated with children, according to CBS Sports, the mumps have found their way into the professional spotlight, making their mark in the NHL.

The significant outbreak had its start in Anaheim, sidelining star Corey Perry and two others last month. Tanner Glass of the New York Rangers became infected later in the same month. According to ESPN, The Minnesota Wild have been the hardest hit, as defensemen Ryan Suter, Keith Ballard, Marco Scandella, Jonas Brodin, and Christian Folin all were afflicted.

“Ten percent of our team population contracted it. As far as I know, everybody received the immunization when they were young. We were all immunized again a few weeks ago. It’s been a tough process to go through. We’ve tried to take every precaution possible. It’s been a very difficult thing to get on top of, [but] I think we’ve done the best we can. We seem to have one player get it, a week off, and another player get it. It’s been frustrating that way.”

-Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher, ESPN

In Montreal, Bryan Allen, who was traded to the Canadiens from Anaheim earlier this year, has been sequestered from the team as he currently has a suspected case.

Other players to be affected include Travis Zajac and Adam Larsson of the New Jersey Devils, according to SportingNews.

The mumps apparently travel well.

Just recently, Sidney Crosby appears, and I mean appears, to have them as well.

The Penguins captain is being held out for the next two games as a precaution while he waits for the diagnosis.

What’s been behind this odd storyline through the first quarter of the 2014-15 NHL Season? Deputy Comissioner Bill Daly shared his thoughts with the Associated Press.

It is certainly an outbreak that was unexpected and has caused unwanted disruption at the team level, but it is not something we have any significant control over. As long as our clubs are doing what they need to do to minimize risk of contraction, we are hopeful that the wave of cases will run their course and life will return to normal.

Surely Daly doesn’t have much of a medical background, and the illness doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Dr. Judith Adberg of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital gave a medicinal opinion on the outbreak to SportingNews.

“You see the hits that they have, and sometimes the spraying of saliva. I think they are high risk. I am surprised we haven’t actually seen this before”

At the rate players skate and collide, it may be a surprise at how an outbreak like this has not travelled through the league before.

According to the CDC, In some years, there are more cases of mumps than usual because of outbreaks. Mumps outbreaks can occur any time of year but often occur in winter and spring. A major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, or even playing on the same sports team.

Vaccinations range in effectiveness, but overall two doses have an 88% rate of success at preventing the disease, reducing to 78% with one dose.

Most mumps transmission from one person to another likely occurs before parotitis onset and within the subsequent 5 days, according to the CDC. People afflicted with the disease should be isolated for 5 days following onset of parotitis.

We’ve seen players out for weeks on end with the illness, and rest seems to be the best medicine for treating it.

Through the first quarter of the NHL season, the mumps outbreak may be one of the more obscure and unexpected storylines off the ice, and time will tell if the situation improves so the NHL can move on.

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Various quotes and medical opinion courtesy of ESPN, SportingNews, and CBS Sports

Medical information courtesy of CDC.