October 17, 2007

Super Bowl of Super Bugs: Keeping athletes safe in the locker room

Source: NYSUT Health & Safety Newsletter

A recent survey found a much higher rate of infections caused by the "super bug" Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) among athletes. Simple precautions can prevent infection by this potentially life-threatening pathogen. Practices such as wiping down equipment and using disinfecting wipes between workouts can eliminate most super resistant bugs effectively and easily.

The survey of U.S. athletic trainers found that more than half have treated an athlete for MRSA over the past 12 months. The web-based survey interviewed 364 certified trainers and 53 percent had seen such infections. Eighty-six percent of the infections were among male players, 65 percent of whom were football players. Basketball players and wrestlers accounted for 21 and 20 percent of the infections, respectively.

Since MRSA can be spread easily, good hand hygiene and safe locker room hygiene can significantly reduce the chance of getting the disease.

Safe locker room hygiene should include the following:

  • Frequently sanitize hands after competing or working out
  • Regularly wipe down mats, helmets, protective padding, common-area surfaces and other equipment
  • Immediately treat and wrap all scrapes, burns and rashes
  • Ensure availability of soap and water and encourage routine showering after each practice or game
  • Make CLEAN towels available and have them washed immediately after each use

For more information about MRSA, including resources for athletics, go to http://www.mrsaresources.com/.