As fall sports kick into high gear, it's important to protect kids from communicable infections. Sports equipment is a prime breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria and virus, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). MRSA is a type of Staph bacteria found on the skin and in the nose that is resistant to antibiotics. More than 90,000 Americans get potentially deadly MRSA infections every year and in 2005, nearly 19,000 Americans died from MRSA infections. More deaths are linked to MRSA infections than AIDS.
There are two known types of MRSA. You may have heard of Healthcare-Associated (HA-MRSA), which occurs in hospitals and nursing homes, but a newer type of MRSA is Community-Associated (CA-MRSA), which has recently begun to spread in public settings like gyms, locker rooms, households and schools.
People can carry MRSA and not have any symptoms. These "carriers" can also transmit the bacteria to other people. MRSA can be easily spread through skin-to-skin contact and by touching contaminated items. This is why it is crucial to take measures to help reduce the spread of MRSA using these practical steps.
- Scrub up - Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds - the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice - or use an alcohol-based hand rub sanitizer.
- Wipe it down - Use a disinfecting bleach solution to wipe down and disinfect hard surfaces. Make sure to use clean cloths to avoid spreading MRSA from one surface to another. (3/4 cup of disinfecting bleach diluted in 1 gallon of water)
- Cover your cuts - Keep any nicks or wounds covered with a clean, dry bandage until healed.
- Keep to yourself - Do not share personal items, like towels or razors, that come into contact with bare skin.
- Use a barrier - Keep a towel or clothing between skin and shared equipment.
If you think that you or anyone in your family may have a MRSA infection, contact a licensed health care professional, especially if the infection is large, painful, warm to the touch, or does not heal by itself.
For more information on MRSA and steps you can take to help reduce the spread of the bacteria, download our STOP MRSA Now Playbook or a fact sheet.
This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Visit The University of Chicago MRSA Research Center Web site for additional resources: