Protecting young athletes from life-threatening MRSA
When New York Giants tight end Daniel Fells was diagnosed with MRSA while being treated for an ankle injury a couple weeks ago the 32-year-old was plunged into a fight for his life.
He’s already gone through six surgeries – and more are likely – as doctors try to fight off the MRSA staph infection in his foot and leg.
This is another frightening reminder of the severity of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) a type of bacterial infection resistant to common antibiotics such as penicillin.
Young athletes can obtain these staph bacteria, which often cause minor skin infections but if they go untreated can invade the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening infection.
HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS, HIGHLY DANGEROUS
MRSA is highly contagious and easily spread through direct physical contact with an infected person.
MRSA infections occur in athletes because the bacteria can spread via skin-to-skin contact or through sharing athletic equipment or even towels.
Poor hygiene, such as skipping hand-washing before and after sports, can also contribute to MRSA, as can injuries that allow the bacteria to enter the skin. The MRSA bacteria can creep into the body through any open cut or wound, causing an infection.
MRSA infections often develop from person-to-person contact and usually appear first as pimples, pustules and boils. They can be red, swollen, painful or have pus or other drainage, and they are often mistaken as insect bites in the early stages.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) official statement recommends the following precautions be taken:
►Keep hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and warm water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer routinely.
►Encourage immediate showering following activity.
►Avoid whirlpools or common tubs. Individuals with open wounds, scrapes or scratches can easily infect others in this environment.
►Avoid sharing towels, razors and daily athletic gear.
►Properly wash athletic gear and towels after each use.
►Maintain clean facilities and equipment.
►Inform or refer to appropriate health care personnel for all active skin lesions and lesions that do not respond to initial therapy.
►Administer or seek proper first aid.
►Encourage health care personnel to seek bacterial cultures to establish a diagnosis.
►Care and cover skin lesions appropriately before participation.
For more information on MRSA from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention click HERE.
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