Written by Doctor G

MRSA Prevention in Student Athletes

How can I best protect my child athlete from staph infection?

Dave, in PA

In a word? Wash.

Here is a quick overview of “staph” infections.

There are a lot of staphylococcus bacteria, but the one you’re asking about is CA-MRSA. That is community acquired Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. More than half of MRSA is caught in health care settings, but a growing percentage is acquired in the community.  It is spread by contact.

MRSA causes red bumps and boils, that can progress to a more serious infection if you ignore them. If attended to, they don’t usually cause any long term problems for people who are otherwise healthy.

How exactly is MRSA spread? Skin to skin contact, or skin to surface contact. Spread is faster if someone has cuts or scrapes on the skin that contacts the bacteria.

Where do kids catch it? Usually in locker rooms, gyms, by sharing clothes or sports equipment or body contact.

Why can kids catch it more often than adults? Cleanliness and contact are the biggest reasons!

How can MRSA transmission be prevented?

  1. Athletes should shower after practices and games. Regular soap and water work well!
  2. Wash all uniforms and practice clothes after each wearing.
  3. Athletes should try not to share equipment that touches their skin.
  4. Equipment that is shared (weight benches, goalie gear, etc) should be wiped down and sprayed with antibacterial spray between uses.
  5. Have kids sit on their towels on locker room benches.
  6. Cover cuts and scrapes before practice or game.

How do you get child athletes to actually DO this stuff? It has to come from the coaches. Email this to your child’s coach (not just trying to get more followers here people, I swear). Middle and high school students are unlikely to make this change unless the whole team does it. In a sports culture if the coach tells you to sit on your towel, you sit on your towel.  If she says to wipe down the weight bench when you finish, you do it. If the trainer says nobody plays with an open cut, then that’s the rule. If, however, one kid tries to make these changes, they will get social pressure to stop. Go to the top with this, and prevent a MRSA outbreak on your child’s team!

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2 thoughts on “MRSA Prevention in Student Athletes”

  1. The list is great and YES – implementation is the hard thing!
    Maybe – coaches can have the list posted around the locker room… make it cool to do it!
    I guess that would mean educating the coaches? huh?

    1. I do think most pro coaches are educated about this. Volunteer coaches, who are awesome, may or may not know this info.

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