The Brumbies have confirmed a number of players and staff members contracted the highly contagious virus mumps.
The Super Rugby franchise was hit with the disease last week, with players Irae Simone, Darcy Swain, Bayley Kuenzle, Mack Hansen, plus assistant coach Peter Hewat, quarantined with what was first considered a “mystery illness”, according to the Canberra Times.
Officials confirmed more players and staff also contracted the virus, but only two likely squad members would be left at home ahead of their round four clash with the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The cases caused some upheaval, not least because all of the affected players and staff were immunised against the disease, a Brumbies spokesman said.
Rugby Australia, ACT Health and Super Rugby adminstrators Sanzaar were called in to help deal with the outbreak and map any fallout.
“After consultation with ACT Health, as well as Rugby Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and Sanzaar, the situation has been managed,” Rugby Australia said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Only staff and players who are completely well have been given the all clear to tour for the Brumbies round four clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.”
The Canberra Times reported on Monday that Simone, Swain, Kuenzle, Hansen and Hewat had all been quarantined and were absent from the Brumbies’ one-point loss to the Highlanders last weekend.
Symptoms appeared similar to mumps but the players’ immunity showed up on blood tests, a spokesman said.
RA said all suspected and confirmed cases were being kept isolated for at least five days after the onset of symptoms, and that all families of players and staff were asked to make suer their immunisations and boosters for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) were up to date.
RA also said it was recommending all other Super Rugby franchises “check the immunisation status of all players and staff and provide MMR boosters to anyone who has not previously received two doses of mumps-containing vaccine at least four weeks apart”.
“Additionally, the travelling group will be asked about symptoms prior to boarding the flight and anyone with symptoms will not board and will remain in Canberra for testing and isolation.
“Once in New Zealand, if a Brumbies player or staff member becomes unwell, they will immediately be isolated in a single room and testing will be arranged.
“They will need to remain in isolation for five days from onset of symptoms in New Zealand if they return a positive result for mumps.”
According to the Australian Government Department of Health, mumps is caused by the mumps virus and spread through contact with an infected person.
It can lead to inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) and infertility.
“About 1 in 200 children with mumps will develop brain inflammation, which can be very serious. Mumps can also damage nerves, which can lead to deafness,” the Department of Health website says.
“For women in the first three months of pregnancy, mumps can cause miscarriage.”