Mumps Outbreak Hits Wild Locker Room

Teams are so vague about player’s injuries and illnesses. It is a mainstay in the league. Upper body injury, lower body injury and then there is “illness.” Illness, which can mean anything from the flu to migraines. When word leaked out that the “illness” that is plaguing some of the hockey players is the mumps, it got a lot of people talking.

The National Hockey League announced Friday that the group is monitoring the mumps outbreak that has hit the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks. Until that announcement, few knew there was an “infection control” subcommittee in the NHL.

Rumors surfaced early in November that the Wild’s Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella may have the mumps.

“The two had the same symptoms that sidelined defensemen Keith Ballard (eight games) and Christian Folin (five games) earlier this season.” wrote Wild beat reporter Mike Russo. The story also indicated that Scandella had been sick since Nov. 8 when they played against Montreal.

So how serious is the Mumps? Mumps (epidemic parotitis) is a viral disease. Painful swelling of the salivary glands – classically the parotid gland – is the most typical presentation. Painful testicular swelling (orchitis) and rash may also occur. A person infected with mumps is contagious from approximately 6 days before the onset of symptoms until about 9 days after symptoms start. The incubation period (time until symptoms begin) can be from 14–25 days, but is typically 16–18 days. In addition, up to 20% of persons infected with the mumps virus do not show symptoms, so it is possible to be infected and spread the virus without knowing it. NHL schedules have teams playing anywhere to 2 to 3 games a week. A team could be devastated with an outbreak that can quickly ravage through a team’s locker room where fluids can be transferred easily.

The Wild took more concrete precautions after Thursday’s 6-3 victory over Buffalo, as team doctors offered mumps vaccinations to all who wanted them.

The status of the latest apparent mumps victim, defensemen Jonas Brodin, is murkier. There’s no telling how long he might be out.

How much of the macho “play through the illness or injury” played a part in the spread of the mumps is up for debate. The fact that 20% of persons infected with the mumps virus do not show symptoms, it begs the question; how many of the players who “WERE” showing symptoms tried to play through it?

The NHL does have procedures in place. The root of the problem is not the illness itself, but the desire/want from management, coaching and the player to simply be tough. It’s when that symptom finally subsides, that the mumps won’t be an issue.