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There's a mumps outbreak among hockey players

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Getty Images
Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

The National Hockey League is faced with an outbreak of the mumps, a painful and rare viral infection with symptoms like swelling of the face, fever, fatigue and muscle aches. So far, 13 players and two referees have been infected, according to Deadspin's science blog Regressing.

The disease may have started in early November with four inflected players from the Anaheim Ducks. From there, five additional hockey players from the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and the Minnesota Wild caught the mumps, according to the publication.

"Ten percent of our team population contracted it," Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher told Regressing. "As far as I know, everybody received the immunization when they were young."

Mumps usually spreads through sneezes and can take three weeks to fully develop, which makes it challenging for doctors to track down and quarantine potential patients, Regressing reported.

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Some experts speculate that the mumps resurgence may be due to the waning strength of childhood vaccines. This implies that it is unclear just how long each vaccine is effective for. Some hockey teams are providing mumps vaccine boosters to their players, Regressing said.

Read the coverage on Regressing.