9 NHL Players Have Come Down with the Mumps!

Is the National Hockey League in the middle of a mumps epidemic? Well, maybe not an epidemic, but it is dealing with several players who have developed the now uncommon disease in the past few weeks.

Nine players: Ryan Suter, Keith Ballard, Marco Scandella, Jonas Brodin and Christian Folin of the Minnesota Wild; Corey Perry, Clayton Stoner and Francois Beauchemin of the Anaheim Ducks; and Tanner Glass of the New York Rangers have all been infected.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league has been in contact with team physicians to  educate them about “best practices” as it is up to the individual teams to combat any outbreak. He told the Chicago Tribune:

“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 (its) course.

Some teams have reportedly provided booster shots of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to players and team personnel.

Before the U.S. mumps vaccination program started in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year. Since the pre-vaccine era, there has been a more than 99% decrease in mumps cases in the United States.

According to the CDC, in 2013, 438 people from 39 states in the U.S. were reported to have mumps. This year, (from January 1 to August 15) 965 people in the US have been reported to have mumps. Outbreaks in at least four U.S. universities (Ohio State University,   Fordham University in New York, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) have contributed to these cases.

What is mumps?

mumpsMumps is a contagious disease that is caused by the mumps virus. Mumps typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands (parotitis). Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps.

How is mumps spread?

Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared. In addition, the virus may spread when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and someone else then touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose.

How long does it take to show signs of mumps after being exposed?

The incubation period of mumps is usually 16–18 days, but can range from 12–25 days.

How long is a person with mumps contagious?

People with mumps are usually considered most infectious from a few days before until 5 days after the onset of parotitis. The CDC recommends isolating mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell.

What are the complications?

Most people with mumps recover fully. However, mumps can occasionally cause complications, and some of them can be serious. Complications may occur even if a person does not have swollen salivary glands (parotitis) and are more common in people who have reached puberty.

Complications of mumps can include:

  • Inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty, which rarely leads to sterility
  • Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
  • Inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breasts (mastitis) in females who have reached puberty
  • Temporary or permanent deafness

Can someone get mumps more than once?

People who have had mumps are usually protected for life against another mumps infection. However, second occurrences of mumps do rarely occur.

How can mumps be prevented?

Mumps vaccine is the best way to prevent mumps. This vaccine is included in the combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccines. Two doses of mumps vaccine are 88% (range: 66-95%) effective at preventing the disease.

The first vaccine against mumps was licensed in the United States in 1967, and by 2005, high two-dose childhood vaccination coverage reduced disease rates by 99%.

Children should be given the first dose of mumps vaccine soon after their first birthday (12 to 15 months of age). The second dose is recommended before the start of kindergarten.  All adults born during or after 1957 should have documentation of one dose. Adults at higher risk, such as university students, health care personnel, and international travelers, and persons with potential mumps outbreak exposure should have documentation of two doses of mumps vaccine or other proof of immunity to mumps.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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