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Athletes Often Exposed to Dangerous Infections
04/07/2009

CLEBURNE, Texas — With spring sports getting into full swing, players, coaches and parents can help prevent sport-related skin infections by taking simple preventive measures.

The bacteria can be found in public areas where many people gather, such as gyms, locker rooms and showers. It may also be found on shared sports equipment and clothing.

More than a third of the U.S. population carries the Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) or staphylococcus aureus (staph) infections, but experience no symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national average for nosocomial, or healthcare acquired, infection is 5.5 percent of all hospital admissions. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne’s rate is well below the national average at 0.09 percent.

Both infections may be resistant to antibiotics, which makes the infections harder to treat in those who experience symptoms.

According to the CDC, symptoms may include a bump or infected area on the skin that is red, swollen, warm, painful, or accompanied by a fever. A draining wound or one that is full of pus is another indication.

“Student athletes can be particularly vulnerable for these types of infections, but simple, common sense steps can lower the risk of exposure,” said Brad Harman, M.D. at Texas Health Cleburne. “Parents can play a key role in preventing these infections by reminding their children to bring home clothes to be washed and that sharing towels or other personal items increases their risk of exposure.”

The CDC recommends individuals use good hand hygiene techniques to reduce their chances of a MRSA skin infection. Those techniques are based on simple steps, such as:

  • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water or with hand sanitizer frequently;
  • Keep cuts clean and covered until healed;
  • Establish routine cleaning schedules for shared equipment. Shared athletic equipment, such as pads or helmets, should be cleaned or laundered at least once a week but ideally after each use;
  • Encourage athletes to report skin lesions to coaches or trainers;
  • Do not touch any other person’s wounds or bandages;
  • Do not share personal items, such as towels, clothing or razors.

Individuals who have a wound associated with MRSA or a staph aureus infection should keep the wound covered and should not share personal items to prevent the spread of the infection.

Individuals who have had or have a wound associated with MRSA or staph aureus infection should inform their physician before any surgery or hospitalization.

For more information, visit cdc.gov.

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne is a 137-bed acute-care, full-service hospital that has served Cleburne and the Johnson County area since 1986. The hospital’s services include surgery, women’s services, urology, orthopedics and ear, nose and throat care. Texas Health Cleburne, an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, has been recognized with the 2007 Premier/Carescience Select Practice National Quality Award. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Cleburne.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. Texas Health’s system of 14 hospitals includes Texas Health Harris Methodist, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, and Texas Health Presbyterian, and an organization for medical research and education. Texas Health Organization for Physicians and Texas Health Physicians Group provide a variety of models for engagement with physicians. Texas Health Partners is a joint venture development and management company owned by Texas Health Resources. Texas Health MedSynergies is a joint venture that offers physicians a range of office management and other business services to support their practices. Texas Health is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.

Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital.

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