Rockets scrubbing up and scaling down amid mumps outbreak

After an outbreak of mumps has affected teams in both the WHL and the NHL, the Kelowna Rockets are taking added precautions.

President and GM Bruce Hamilton says the viral disease hasn't affected any of his players, but it's made its way into teams nearby.

"It started in Brandon, and I think it was three players and a coach there, and then moved to Medicine Hat," he said.

"And now with it being with the Canucks, I think we that had to take some stands here or some direction from the medical community especially, and that's what the league did. So we've just decided that there's some things we've got to stop doing for a little while here until we're sure that we're clear of this issue."

Hamilton says as per a league directive, they've been sanitizing both team's dressing rooms at Prospera Place, ahead of the Rockets home game Wednesday night. As well, penalty boxes and team benches have undergone sanitization.

He says Monday was spent getting up-to-date vaccination histories from all the players, with some of the team recieving booster shots as well.

"Our doctors are encouraging the players to get their immunizations, and our trainer was doing a lot of work with the players' parents getting all their records, so that we're making sure everybody's up to date on this," he said. 

"And just looking after them, and following up when things become accessible and they catch it - we just don't want that happening here."

Hamilton says unfortunately, part of the preventative measures have been dialing back the contact between players and fans, like a scheduled event on Monday.

"The mandate from me here is that we really slow down the demands on the players once we get into March, fortunately that's going to slow down," he said.

"But we missed a school appearance, I think it was a full school of 600 kids, that probably were somewhat disappointed to find out they weren't coming, but we'll do something for them along the way."

After a couple Canucks players and a trainer caught the virus in Vancouver, the Minnesota Wild announced two of their players had also picked up the mumps late yesterday.

 

Statement from the Western Hockey League:

Calgary, AB -- The Western Hockey League was informed of confirmed cases of mumps within one of our member Clubs in early February. Since that time, the WHL has been working closely with its Team Services Committee, all 22 WHL member Clubs and their training staff members as well as the applicable health authorities to ensure proper steps are being taken to minimize the spread of the virus.

All WHL Clubs were immediately advised by the WHL Office to take all necessary precautions, including sanitization of all locker room areas and equipment. All WHL Clubs were also asked to review vaccination histories of players and team staff and strongly recommend vaccination if necessary. The medical and training staff members of each WHL Club and the WHL Office are on alert for anyone displaying mumps symptoms, including officials, and isolating individuals as required.

The health and welfare of all WHL players, staff members and fans is the League’s top priority. With the assistance of the health authorities, all WHL Clubs are continuing to ensure sanitization, early detection and isolation protocols are being followed diligently. While there is an extremely low risk of spectators contracting the virus, the WHL has also instructed all WHL Clubs to advise players to refrain from any direct contact with fans at this time.

Mumps is spread through respiratory droplets of saliva and mucus from the nose, mouth and throat. During periods of increased cases of mumps, Alberta Health Services advises the public to practice good hand hygiene and encourages the use of hand sanitizer whenever possible. Symptoms of the mumps can include swollen salivary glands and flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches and headaches. Anyone displaying mumps symptoms is asked to contact (by phone) their family physician or local health authority.

Mumps is preventable through vaccination, however, a minority of vaccinated individuals remain susceptible. All individuals can confirm their immunization history with their family physician or local health authority, particularly if there has been recent contact with someone who may have symptoms.

For more information on the virus, please visit immunizealberta.ca or contact your local health authority.