MRSA is becoming more of a threat to athletes. Once mostly confined to hospitals, this super bug is now crossing into the general population, and is infecting athletes at all levels and in all sports. Here is what you need to know to keep yourself safe.
Bacteria infections among athletes are not rare, though they can make it difficult to perform your best. In many cases, bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics like penicillin, amoxicillin, methicillin, and oxacillin. MRSA, however, is resistant to antibiotics, making it difficult to treat.
Spread on the Rise
Unfortunately, the spread of MRSA in sports is on the rise. Before 2002, drug resistant infections were rarely heard of in a healthy population of athletes. Some of the first cases showed up on football teams, though it has since spread to other sports.
MRSA is usually spread through direct contact, and can be found on the skin or in the nose of the average person. It normally does not cause a problem if it remains there. However, sports can cause an increase in bruising, abrasions, and other injuries, and the open wounds allow for infection.
It can then be spread from one athlete to another throw shared towels or equipment. The direct person-to-person contact in many sports also makes it easy to pass off the infection from one person to another.
The MRSA infection may start out as a pimple or lesion, but the bacteria can spread throughout the body. If left untreated, the infection will spread, causing a pus-filled abscess. As the infection advances, it becomes harder and harder to treat and control. Severe, untreated cases can result in shortness of breath, chills, fever, and even death. Therefore, any suspicious looking skin conditions should be checked out by a doctor immediately.
In order to prevent contracting MRSA and other bacterial infections, there are some guidelines that you should follow. Do not share any of the following items: towels, razors and equipment, deodorant, balms or ointments, and blankets or pillows. Do not lie on the floor of the locker room or use community towels on the sidelines. If infected, do not use whirlpools or other medical equipment, and do not share beds.
Things that you can do to stop the spread of infection include:
- Clean all workout equipment after individual use
- Keep locker rooms and showers clean
- Wipe down common areas with disinfectant
- Encourage showering with hot water using antibacterial soap after practice or competition
- Frequently wash all parts of your gear, adding bleach when you can
- Avoid contact with infected persons
- Finish all antibiotic prescriptions
- Use disposable gloves when cleaning up bodily fluids
- Train athletes, coaches, and staffs how to recognize and treat potentially infected wounds
- Use an alcohol based hand disinfectant regularly
MRSA can cause a serious problem in the athletic world, causing whole teams to fall ill. However, it can be prevented. By knowing what to look for and practicing good hygiene, you can help ensure that everyone on your team stays in good health and top shape for your games.