Mumps 2: The ReMumpening

The Vancouver Canucks have mumps.

Mumps, a nasty little virus that causes hilarious yet painful swelling of the salivary glands, is highly contagious. Transferred through saliva, it is currently laying waste to Toronto’s bar scene. The NHL had its first mumps outbreak in 2014 – you may remember this iconic image:

Of course it happened to Sid. Of course it did. 

The outbreak passed, teams gave out booster shots, and everyone promptly forgot that dozens of professional athletes had the mumps. But now the virus is back to terrorize the hapless Canucks, leaving us all with the question: What caused the Great ReMumpening?

Several theories have been floated, ranging from the mundane (sharing water bottles) to the disgusting (saliva spray during checking) to the tragically improbable (hot player-on-player action.) But the fact remains that this is a group of health-conscious adult men in peak physical fitness. What are they doing with a 19th century children’s disease?

The answer may be surprisingly simple. Before 1996, the prevailing wisdom in Canada was that we only needed to be inoculated against mumps once. Now, the recommendation is that children need to get the mumps vaccine twice. This means that Canadians born  between 1970 and 1992 are still susceptible to mumps even though they  received their childhood vaccination. The NHL is mostly comprised of Canadians born between 1970 and 1992. If they’re anything like every other Canadian Millennial, their parents lost their yellow immunization card circa 1998. Like all those poor saps who got infected on West Queen West last week, they probably didn’t know that they were supposed to get inoculated twice and have now passed on Canada’s most unfortunate export since Justin Bieber to their international teammates.

The Canucks aren’t exactly playoff-bound this year, but if the outbreak spreads, other Western Conference teams could find themselves incapacitated at a crucial point in the season. The Canucks play the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night. Brent Burns was born in Barrie in 1985.

I hope he’s had his booster shot.

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