21 October 2008

MRSA in sports

I am possibly the most sports-impaired person on the planet (a consequence of growing up with the lovely but impenetrable game of cricket), but even I noticed these stories recently.
  • University of North Carolina-Asheville basketball center Kenny George has lost part of his right foot to amputation as the result of a staph infection.
  • Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow has emotionally gone public — to the displeasure of his coaches — with the news that he was hospitalized for three days for a staph infection. Winslow has been struggling with MRSA since 2005, when he had a motorbike accident, had surgery, and developed a post-surgical infection. Four other Browns players — Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicius, LeCharles Bentley and Brian Russell — have had MRSA as well.
MRSA in sports is not new news, but the prominence of some of its victims has brought great attention to the bug: For instance, Redskins defensive tackle Brandon Noble, who was sidelined for a season, and eventually ended his career, over a MRSA infection following arthroscopic knee surgery. And it is not limited to pro players: Lycoming College senior Ricky Lanetti died in 2003 from an overwhelming MRSA infection that began as a pimple-like "spider bite" lesion.

There has been so much concern about MRSA among schools and parents that the CDC has issued specific advice for sports programs. Some of the reasons why athletes may be vulnerable are well-understood: They work in crowded conditions, they undergo a lot of skin-to-skin contact, they are likely to get scraped and injured, and they may not get clean immediately (especially high school players — does anyone shower after high school sports any more?).

But some factors, such as the role of artificial turf, are still murky. An investigation of eight MRSA infections among the St. Louis Rams in the 2003 season (first author Sophia Kazakova) found that linemen and linebackers were more likely to develop MRSA, possibly because they ended up with more turf abrasions. On the other hand, an investigation of 10 infections among players at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut (first author Elizabeth Begier) found that, while turf burns played a role, a contaminated team whirlpool — and sharing razors for shaving body hair — did too.


Duncan said...

Maryn, I like the article, great information about MRSA victims. But the connection to MRSA in the synthetic turf fields' infill is not murky at all. In fact, the most recent study, one from UMDNJ clearly links the two together as well as other problems, like ingestion. Also, you should look at the solution...Organite Anti-Microbial Infill, check our site at www.targapro.com and attached blog.

Anonymous said...

Wound infections occuring in sports is certainly not new news, but the problem is we have one antibiotic to treat. Doctors used to treat infection with antibiotics like Methicilline ,Flucloxacilline or Fucidin and the person lived.

These new strain MRSA does not respond to treatment but also has various enzymes that could kill you fast. As doctors we need to just stand and pray the patient lives.

Even thorn prick in your garden can be dangerous to your life (not health). Antiseptics and antibacterial solution do not kill them.

We are worried about children getting wound infections and developing septicemia rapidly.

Please don't take this MRSA lightly.

Anonymous said...

this site has excellent information on staph/mrsa prevention in an athletic setting and includes a video. www.mrsahelp.com

Maryn McKenna said...

The site in the comment above is the advertising site for StaphASeptic, the botanical-based disinfectant/antiseptic I posted on a week or two ago.

daedalus2u said...

The Ram's home stadium is a closed dome. The lack of sunlight on the astroturf and the lack of competition with other non-pathogenic organisms is probably a causal factor.

I would be concerned with any anti-microbial system that fosters antibiotic resistance. That includes botanical agents (such as pine oil) which induce the multi-drug resistance pathway.

Since the turf can be removed and rolled up, I would think there could be a sterilization system designed that would be completely effective and would not lead to additional antibiotic resistance.

Duncan said...

To daedalus2u - In fact there is...All Professional Football head groundskeepers that care for synthetic turf fields apply a topical treatment, depending on the formula(the Ravens for instance apply a coat to M&T Bank Stadium every two weeks and it is very expensive). Most colleges apply it and few (if any) high schools. That is why the use of Organite is important because it is an infill material that is coated in production and needs no topical recoat. The big boys in this industry of synthetic turf are showing how money-driven they are when they sell these fields without calculating into the price of the field, anti-microbial costs and disposal costs.