By Brian W. Donnelly, M.D., Pediatric Alliance — North Hills Division

It is a league known for dislodged teeth and lumps and bumps. Now the NHL is making headlines because of mumps.

A few weeks ago, it caught my eye that Corey Perry, one of the elite forwards in the league (and one who would make a great linemate for Sidney Crosby, by the way) was placed on the injured reserve list due to “illness.”

Very unusual, I thought.

A few days later, when some of his teammates had also succumbed, the league announced they were dealing with an outbreak of mumps.  Since then, the outbreak has involved at least 13 players on 5 different teams (including the aforementioned Mr. Crosby, our beloved captain, as the latest victim).

So far.

Francois Beauchemin, an Anaheim defenseman, described his experience as “the worst thing I’ve ever had in my life.”  After a game, he noticed swelling in his jaw.  Later on, he felt particularly tired and achy.  Then he developed high fevers.  Over the next several days, he lost 10 pounds because eating was too painful.

It is a little mysterious why this is happening now.  We know 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.  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.”

But this outbreak is an epidemiological challenge.
Maybe it is some evil plot concocted by the Flyers.

; > )

One of the NHL’s best defensemen, Ryan Suter, recently recovered from his bout with mumps.  Suter had played 171 straight games, and logs more ice time than anyone else in the league.  Nothing could keep him from playing punishingly hard hockey… except this virus.  Interestingly enough, the team had offered vaccine boosters a few weeks ago and he declined.

As some of you may recall, there was an outbreak of mumps at Ohio State University this past March.  With the current state of anti-vaccine sentiment out there, more outbreaks elsewhere are likely.

Maybe even … gasp! … in the NFL!


(More PediaBlog contributions from Dr. Donnelly here.)