MRSA - A bug that knows no boundaries

MRSA Infects Yale athletes. Yes, MRSA can attack athletes at the finest institutions in the country. And at the highest levels of sports:

Buccaneers Report Third Player With MRSA, Call On DICON To Help

Giants' Daniel Fells Could Lose His Foot Due To MRSA Infection

The Center for Disease Control defines MRSA as, "Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections. In medical facilities, MRSA causes life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections."

What does MRSA look like?

​​"MRSA skin and soft tissue infections usually present with redness, swelling, warmth, pain or tenderness. The lesions may drain pus. Student-athletes may describe the lesion as an infected pimple, insect bite or spider bite. Occasionally, athletes may have pain or swelling in a joint or fever. In severe cases, MRSA infection may lead to lead to septicemia (infection in the blood stream), multisystem organ failure or death." (Source)

What do you do about it if you see it?

Rapid diagnosis and therapy are crucial in treating MRSA and preventing the spread among team members. A student-athlete with a skin infection must seek immediate medical care and should not try to self-treat the infection. The primary method of treatment for a MRSA skin infection is incision and drainage. The wound drainage should be sent for bacterial culture and susceptibility testing. Topical antibiotics (e.g. mupirocin) may be effective for localized lesions. Oral antibiotic therapy is indicated if local symptoms are severe or fail to respond to incision and drainage. The susceptibility of MRSA to antibiotics is dependent on local resistance rates and is best determined by a healthcare professional. The student-athlete should avoid skin to skin contact and keep the wound covered until it is no longer draining as the pus may contain MRSA bacteria. Student-athletes should resume athletic activities only when directed by an athletics healthcare professional. " (Source)

General prevention guidelines are as follows:

  • 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 when an athlete has open wounds, scrapes, or scratches.

  • Avoid sharing of towels, razors, or daily athletic gear.

  • Properly wash athletic gear and towels after each use.

  • Maintain clean facilities and equipment.

  • Refer to appropriate health care personnel 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 for and cover skin lesions appropriately before participation.

TeamSafe™ Youth Sports Safety Certification Course

More resources:

NATA Position Statement Skin Diseases

NFHS Position Statement Sports Related Skin Infections

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