The Royals are all asking the same question this week as two of their own break out with the chickenpox: Did I have the chicken pox as a kid or is there a chance I could get it?
Kelvin Herrera, relief pitcher, and rightfielder Alex Rios both contracted the chicken pox as they were finishing a series against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. Neither Herrera nor Rios stayed to finish the series. They flew back to Kansas City and the chicken pox was confirmed in each player.
Ned Yost, manager for the Royals, said that Herrera and Rios could miss up to two weeks, depending on how the disease progresses, and playoffs are a month away. He also commented that he thinks the chicken pox is limited to just these two players. No one else has had a break out so far.
The chicken pox virus is spread through the air or through actual bodily contact with someone who has it. People who contract it have small itchy blisters accompanied with a fever and fatigue. When an adult contracts chicken pox, it can be a lot more serious with a chance of catching phenomena or getting a brain infection from the disease.
“For adults who get chickenpox, it tends to be much more severe,” said Rafael Harpaz, a medical epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“A child might have a couple hundred lesions,” Harpaz said. “An adult might have over 500. The likelihood that they’ll end up getting pneumonia is much higher. That’s pretty rare in children. So there’s a number of complications that are more common in adults than in children.”
Rios was the first Royals player to show symptoms of chicken pox on his chest. They initially thought he had been bit by bedbugs but a doctor diagnosed him with the virus. He was taken off the roster about an hour before the game began. The team chartered a private jet to fly him back to Kansas City. When Herrera arrived at the club house the next day and described comparable symptoms, he was immediately put on a second charter plane and flown out. Rios and Herrera neither had chicken pox as a child.
The Royals are not sure how Rios got the virus, but since Rios grew up in Puerto Rico and Herrera in the Dominican Republic, Harpaz, the expert from the CDC, said that “people raised in Caribbean climates are often more susceptible to the chickenpox as adults in America.”
The Royals are double-checking every player on the team, making sure that they’ve either had the chicken pox or they’ve been immunized.
According to the ESPN website, “The reason such diseases spreads so quickly in sports is that players tend to share the same confined space, like a chartered plane or locker room. They also tend to share water bottles and other equipment, such as bats, gloves and protective gear in baseball. Throw in the hot, humid training rooms and workouts spaces and ballparks become a breeding ground for viruses.”
Jonny Gomes, who was traded from the Atlanta Braves, was surprised by the chicken pox outbreak too when asked about it at his physical.
“I’m definitely in the clear,” he said. “That was the first time I’ve been asked that in a physical. Normally it’s, ‘How’s your shoulder? How’s your knee?’ Yeah, chickenpox. I’m good.”
Let’s hope the rest of the Royals players stay healthy!
(image via: Fox Sports)