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Those of us who make InjuryBoard part of our daily lives (and pretty much anyone who watches the evening news) are familiar with the growing MRSA problem. MRSA — short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus— is commonly found in hospitals, nursing facilities, and other long-term care facilities. My wife, who serves as the Director of Social Services for a nursing home in our area has told me that her facility tests its residents regularly and requires testing of any hospital patient that seeks to be admitted. Given the growing prevalence of this affliction in our hospitals, this is a prudent step in the admission process.

However, MRSA has branched out… according to the Center for Disease Control, MRSA is becoming an increasing problem among junior high and high school athletes, particularly, among football players. The CDC states that that football training camps provide a setting where multiple risk factors converge to increase the likelihood of MRSA outbreaks. These risk factors include sharing towels, soap and other personal items, and inadequate care of skin wounds among players. Crowded living conditions also appeared to be a risk factor. Also, the investigators found that the players’ body mass index (BMI) — the ratio of weight to height commonly used to assess obesity — correlated with an increased risk of MRSA infection. Finally, body shaving and "turf burns" also seem to raise football players’ risk of contracting MRSA.

There are several measures that can be taken to prevent MRSA skin infections in sports participants, CDC officials note, such as designing processes and facilities to enable and promote optimal player hygiene, and better educating coaching staff, and especially players, on recognizing potential infections and what to do about them.

Community-acquired MRSA infection typically causes abscesses or areas of inflammation on the skin, though in some cases it can also lead to more serious problems such as pneumonia and blood infection.

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