Special to The Citizen from Kelly E. Sullivan,
BHS Class of 2009 and University of Lowell Nursing Student
As a former high school and collegiate athlete, I am very interested in Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria, the staph infection known as MRSA. Once an infection that was associated mostly with extended stay in hospitals, the MRSA bacteria now is prevalent in the community (CA-MRSA) and threatens the young and healthy playing interscholastic athletics.
According to the Journal of Academic Dermatology, CA-MRSA first appeared in the early 1980’s. Since that time, it has been growing and has raised great concern among athletic directors, trainers and school personnel. Although studies in athletes have not involved such a large group of subjects, reports indicate that MRSA infections have become increasingly common among sports participants.
With football season right around the corner, all those involved with interscholastic sports should follow these directives to help keep CA-MRSA at bay:
- Cover all wounds. If a wound cannot be covered adequately, consider excluding players with potentially infectious skin lesions from practice or competitions until the lesions are healed or can be covered adequately;
- Encourage good hygiene, including showering and washing with soap after all practices and competitions;
- Ensure availability of adequate soap and hot water;
- Discourage sharing of towels and personal items (e.g. clothing or equipment);
- Establish routine cleaning schedules for shared equipment;
- Train athletes and coaches in first aid for wounds and recognition of wounds that are potentially infected;
- Encourage athletes to report skin lesions to coaches to assess athletes regularly for skin lesions.
Most high schools and colleges in this area do follow strict guidelines and CA-MRSA breakouts have been rare. But, it is important for all those involved in contact sports on both the youth and adult level also be vigilant in precautionary behavior.