It’s official; the National Hockey League has the mumps. On Saturday, Tanner Glass, a player for the New York Rangers was isolated from his team because he was diagnosed with the mumps. Glass was the first player in the Eastern Conference to be diagnosed, but he wasn’t the first player in the league. On Friday, Clayton Stoner, a player for the Anaheim Ducks was diagnosed with the mumps, making that that third case for the Ducks. Cases have also been confirmed on the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced to the public that they “have an Infectious Disease Subcommittee that works under the auspices of the Joint Health and Safety Committee.” This subcommittee has been working hand in hand with CDC officials to establish vaccine and booster protocols, screening protocols, and preventative measures.
The mumps virus is an enveloped single-stranded negative sense RNA virus in the family paramxyoviridae. It is the causative agent of mumps, the disease. Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, and swollen salivary glands. These were the same symptoms that these NHL players initially reported before they were diagnosed. The incubation period ranges from 16-18 days, but can last into the 25th day after infection. The disease isn't very lethal, but it is miserable and has been shown to cause sterility in males. The virus spreads by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth or nose of an infected person; this normally happens when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks closely to another person. People can also leave the virus on items such as drinking and eating utensils. The virus can also be spread when an infected person touches a surface, and a person touches that infected surface. There is an effective vaccine against mumps, which is included in a trivalent vaccine protecting against measles, mumps, and rubella. But the immune response to a vaccine wears after it is administered. The incubation period and the routes of transmission worry the NHL subcommittee because these players spend a lot of their time working out, touching the same exercise equipment, using the same locker facilities, flying on private planes, and eating meals together. An infected player can infect several people on his team before he shows symptoms and is isolated from his team. Furthermore, the staffs of these professional teams and the families of these players present another high-risk group for these outbreaks. Kyle Brodziak, a center for the Minnesota Wild, spoke to reporters recently about his new born child: “I have a newborn at home, nine or ten days old. It’s something you’ve got to hope for the best that you don’t bring anything home.” Mumps outbreaks are common in close contact groups, but Brodziak is right. The only things that most of these players can do are follow the protocols and try to stay healthy.