Mumps spreading among NHL players

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Are NHL players giving each other the mumps?

According to Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious disease expert at North Shore LIJ, the rink is a perfect breeding ground.

“Mumps outbreaks still occur. And there’s something about the intensity and the close contact of a professional hockey player that might predispose to transmission in that group,” Dr. Hirsch said.

Two New Jersey Devil players caught the disease. One was still sidelined Monday night at the Coliseum when they played the Islanders. More than a dozen NHL players have come down with the virus, including two New York Rangers players.

But according to a New York Islanders spokesperson, none of their players have caught mumps yet.

“A very contact heavy sport, right?” asked tailgater Kaitlyn Hertzog, wondering why it’s spreading through the NHL.

According to medical experts, saliva is one of the main ways mumps spreads. When hockey players skate into each other, spit and other bodily fluids fly. It also spreads through coughing, talking and sharing drinks, like water bottles in a locker room.

As for why the players are catching mumps, even though they are vaccinated?

According to Dr. Hirsch, vaccines aren’t perfect and some people have fading immunity. But Hirsch said they are still necessary and effective for much of the population.

The Islanders told PIX11, “Given the present mumps outbreak that have involved several NHL teams, Islander players, coaches (and hockey operations/traveling team personnel) have prophylactically received the mumps vaccine.”