What The NHL Mumps Outbreak Teaches Us About Immunity
The unprecedented outbreak of mumps — a contagious and occasionally dangerous virus — in a professional sports league, the NHL, has led to player quarantines, cancelled events and, most recently, movement among NBA clubs that often share facilities to distance themselves from arenas and practice facilities also used by hockey players. The NFL, though its players don’t have contact with hockey teams, has taken note as well, according to an ESPN report — they know it could happen in their league, too.
Although the first mumps alert in the NHL — from the Anaheim Ducks — happened in mid-September, and the first official diagnosis occurred in mid-October, according to an ESPN timeline of player illnesses and absences, the outbreak’s profile was raised significantly after star player Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was diagnosed on Dec. 14. More recently, on Dec. 19, Crosby’s teammate Olli Määttä tested positive for the virus. All told, 18 players have been diagnosed with the illness, while several others have missed games due to “mumps-like symptoms.” The outbreak is not yet contained, and the league is bracing itself for additional illness.