Several NHL teams have called off public appearances involving their players due to the recent mumps outbreak, per multiple reports.
Several NHL teams have called off public appearances involving their players who have mumps.
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According to USA TODAY's Kevin Allen, the public appearances involve hospital visits and charity events. He says "at least four teams" have gotten in on the act to prevent the spread of the illness.
One of those four teams is the New York Islanders, who released a statement to USA TODAY which reads,"As of today no player or staff member has shown any signs of symptoms or infection. Nonethless to assure the health and wellness of hospitalized children, the organization has decided to be extremely cautious."
ESPN's Katie Strang quotes Islanders foward Kyle Okposo when he spoke for the team. He says the Islanders are "extremely disappointed":
"We're extremely disappointed that the event has been postponed, but understand the circumstances. This has always been of our favorite events to take part in because seeing a child smile when we give them a gift or take a picture with them, is what the holiday season is all about. We're happy the children will still receive the gifts and look forward to visiting the local hospitals soon."
A Dec. 16 update from The Canadian Press (via NHL.com) reveals Okposo, his teammates and their coaches already received mumps vaccines. The Islanders say none of their players or staff members have the disease.
The Islanders' decision comes just a day after the Pittsburgh Penguins' Beau Bennett exposed several staff members and patients of the Pittsburgh Children's Hospital to mumps after he visited on Dec. 16. Bennett becomes the 15th NHL player to be diagnosed with mumps. The Canadian Press update adds children who haven't received mumps vaccines "will be put in isolation and monitored for symptoms."
Other teams with reported casualties include the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, per Allen.
The Calgary Flames are one of the teams with no mumps cases but decided to take on a cautious approach by postponing their holiday hospital visit originally scheduled for Dec. 17. They have since rescheduled to Jan. 2015. Allen adds Calgary's team doctors gave Flames players mumps vaccinations two weeks ago as a precautionary measure.
The Wild postponed their holiday visit as well. Among the other squads with no mumps cases and are scheduled to go on with their respective public appearances are the Nashville Predators, Arizona Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings. Allen stresses the mumps outbreak has garnered national media attention since Penguins center Sidney Crosby came down with it last week.
Allen also says the mumps vaccine is "about 88 percent effective." He also spoke with Dr. Greg Wallace of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to get his take on mumps:
"Mumps is a little trickier because the spectrum of clinical symptoms can vary quite a bit so it's not easy to detect it early on.
"Influenza is more complicated because the genetics can change from year to year. Certainly there are a lot more influenza cases every year than there are mumps cases. The genetics of the mumps is relatively stable."
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