Interactive: The NHL’s mumps outbreak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Beau Bennett (19) and Sidney Crosby (87) celebrate Bennett's goal against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, April 3, 2014. Both Bennett and Crosby have been diagnosed with mumps. John Woods / The Canadian Press

The Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Beau Bennett are the latest NHL players to come down with cases of mumps. They join a long list of other hockey players who have contracted the disease since October.

Some reports have suggested that Anaheim’s Corey Perry was the source of the outbreak. However, an analysis by Global News suggests that it more likely originated with the St. Louis Blues or the Minnesota Wild.

Although there are 15 players who have been officially diagnosed so far, several individuals on the St. Louis Blues also likely had the disease in October, even if they aren’t included on that list. Jori Lethera, Alexander Steen, Ryan Reaves, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jay Bouwmeester, T.J. Oshie and Joakim Lindstrom were all off sick with what was first called the flu, then a bacterial infection.

It’s possible that these Blues players indeed had the flu or infections. However, when asked by Global News whether the Blues had mumps, team spokesperson Dan O’Neill said, “Almost everyone players on the team had it in varying severity. Effected players anywhere from 24-48 hours in most cases.” [sic] He did not respond to follow-up queries.
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Around the same time as many Blues players, the Wild’s Keith Ballard and Christian Folin were also benched due to illness. Both players were said to be suffering from jaw swelling – a common symptom of mumps. Tests later showed that Ballard had caught the mumps.

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Mumps is a very contagious disease. It’s understandable that players could spread it to their teammates – after all, they spend hours together and likely share some equipment. It’s harder to see how it might jump between teams, though according to Dr. Michael Gardam, University Health Network chief of infectious diseases and prevention, “Whenever you have human beings in close proximity, there will be spread.”

READ MORE: Why the NHL locker room is the perfect catalyst for a mumps outbreak

The graphic below is a look at how mumps may have spread through the NHL. It shows players, both confirmed and possible cases, along a timeline. We’ve also included games which occurred roughly during the mumps’ incubation phase (12-25 days) before a player was reported ill. This isn’t a definitive look at how mumps spread through the league, but instead it presents some possibilities. In some cases, individuals may carry mumps but not show symptoms.

Hover over a player to see how they’re connected to their teammates. Hover over a game (displayed near the bottom of the graphic) to see players who participated in that game and developed mumps. Click on a player to see when they were announced sick.

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Please note that this graphic functions best on a desktop browser.

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