“In an effort to educate the public about the potential risks of community-acquired methicillin-resistant staphylococcus infection (CA-MRSA), the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) has issued an official statement recommending all health care personnel and physically active adults and children take appropriate precautions if suspicious skin infections appear, and immediately contact their physician.”
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Staphylococcus aureus , often referred to as “staph,” are bacteria carried on the skin or in the nose of 25 to 35 percent of healthy people. This is known as colonization. It occurs when the staph bacteria are present or in the body without causing illness. Infection occurs when the staph bacteria causes disease in the person.”
“In the past, most serious staph bacterial infections were treated with an antibiotic related to penicillin. In recent years, treatment of these infections has become more difficult because staph bacteria have become resistant to various antibiotics, including the commonly used penicillin related antibiotics. These resistant bacteria are called methicillin resistant staphylococcus or MRSA. According to the CDC, one percent of the population is colonized with MRSA.”
“MRSA infections usually develop in hospitalized patients. However, MRSA rates have increased recently in persons outside of health care facilities, affecting athletes and the physically active.”
“Staph or MRSA infections develop from person-to-person contact, shared towels, soaps, improperly cleaned whirlpools and sports equipment,” says Ron Courson, ATC, PT, NREMT-I, CSCS, head athletic trainer at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga. “Such infections usually appear first as pimples, pustules and boils. Some can be red, swollen, painful and/or have pus or other drainage. The pustules may be confused with insect bites in early states. The infections may also be associated with previous existing turf burns or abrasions. Without proper referral and care, more serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections or surgical wound infections.” Courson believes maintaining good hygiene and avoiding contact with drainage from skin lesions are the best methods for preventing MRSA infections.”
NATA’s official statement recommends the following precautions be taken:
1. Keep hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and warm water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer routinely.
2. Encourage immediate showering following activity.
3. Avoid whirlpools or common tubs. Individuals with open wounds, scrapes or scratches can easily infect others in this environment
4. Avoid sharing towels, razors, and daily athletic gear
5. Properly wash athletic gear and towels after each use
6. Maintain clean facilities and equipment
7. Inform or refer to appropriate health care personnel for all active skin lesions and lesions that do not respond to initial therapy.
8. Administer or seek proper first aid.
9. Encourage health care personnel to seek bacterial cultures to establish a diagnosis
10. Care and cover skin lesions appropriately before participation.
Cheyney Athletics Policy - CDC Recommendations
• Instruct student-athletes with flu-like illness to promptly seek medical attention from the athletic trainer if they have a medical condition that puts them at increased risk of severe illness from flu, are concerned about their illness, or develop severe symptoms such as increased fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or rapid breathing.
• Student-athletes with flu-like illness should stay away from classes and limit interactions with other people, except to seek medical care, for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. They should stay away from others during this time period even if they are taking antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu.
• Student-athletes with a private room should remain in their room and receive care and meals from a single person. Students can establish a “flu buddy scheme” in which they pair up to care for each other if one or the other becomes ill. Additionally, staff can make daily contact by e-mail, text messaging, phone calls, or other methods with each student who is in self-isolation.
• If possible, residential students with flu-like illness who live relatively close to the campus should return to their home to keep from making others sick. These students should be instructed to do so in a way that limits contact with others as much as possible.
• If close contact with others cannot be avoided, the ill student should be asked to wear a surgical mask during the period of contact. Close contact includes things like caring for or living with the ill person.
• Non-residential students, faculty, and staff with flu-like illness should be asked to self-isolate at home or at a friend’s or family member’s home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
• Emphasize the importance of the basic foundations of flu prevention: stay home when sick, wash hands frequently with soap and water when possible, and cover noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or a shirt sleeve or elbow if no tissue is available).
• Establish regular schedules for frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces (for example, bathrooms, doorknobs, elevator buttons, and tables).
• Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by student-athletes before each use.
• Encourage student-athletes to frequently clean their living quarters, including high-touch surfaces.
• The Athletic Training Staff, in consultation with the Team Physician, will make the suggestion to the Director of Athletics to postpone or refrain from hosting any athletic event that may pose a high risk of exposure and transmission of flu. This extends to Cheyney University teams traveling to a site where a high risk of exposure is a threat.