Mumps a growing concern for the NHL and others

Dec 14, 2014

Mumps is a disease which was once a serious health problem but has been essentially wiped out by a vaccine licensed in 1967.

Last year, there were 438 confirmed cases in the U.S. and this year, there have been nine cases in the National Hockey League among players and two among on-ice officials. There have also been four university outbreaks.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein says sports is an ideal environment for transmission because players work and practice so closely with teammates. Burstein says as a young doctor she saw children in Africa die from diseases we block with vaccinations.

Dr. Gale Burstein
Credit WBFO File Photo / WBFO News

"I did see children die of measles. I saw children die of pertussis. It's very, very sad, and seeing in the United States where parents are refusing immunizations that can place their children at risk for very serious diseases that can cause permanent damage or even death is so disheartening", said Burstein.

Dr. Burstein says mumps is potentially a very serious health problem among adults because of side effects of the disease and many adults haven't had the prescribed booster shots, although NHL teams are giving them to players.