How Athletes are Staying Safe from MRSA

St Louis, MO (PressExposure) August 17, 2009 -- Brian Smith, Missouri’s no-nonsense wrestling coach who still mixes it up on the mats, is not someone who scares easily. But even his wife recognizes his near-obsessive fight against one microscopic opponent: MRSA, the potentially fatal skin infection.

MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was once relegated mostly to hospitals and those with weak immune systems on heavy doses of antibiotics. Concern arose when a mutated variety began spreading among the general population about a decade ago. A 2007 study by the Centers for Disease Control found that cases of MRSA that had been treated at hospitals had more than doubled over six years, from 127,000 in 1999 to 278,000 in 2005. The CDC also estimates that one in three healthy people carry staph in their noses or on their skin and the bacteria can lie in wait for years.

In the system of sports, MRSA quickly became a hot topic. This infection was ending careers by getting into the bloodstream of athletes and attacking organs and tissues. Coaches, trainers, and players are becoming more aware of this issue and taking more precautions. Smith, for one, makes sure the mats are disinfected daily and cleaned every three months with an antimicrobial concentrate. Gear and mopheads are washed after every workout, fans were installed to circulate the air, and wrestlers are required to step on a pad saturated with cleaning solution every time they step on the mat. Athletes are being asked to maintain better hygiene habits, such as showering after every practice, keeping nails cut short in order to prevent scratches where the infection can enter, and no sharing of items such as towels or razors.

Smith and his team, along with Missouri’s football team, have also begun using a product called Hibiclens, a long-time principal cleanser in operating rooms that is now commercially available. Hibiclens claims to actively kill 38 types of bacteria for up to six hours. 24 other colleges in Missouri are also using Hibiclens to fight MRSA, according to Mike Harbert, who works for a medical marketing group in St. Louis.

Nobody around takes this infection more seriously than Smith. At a recent camp he wondered about putting too much disinfecting solution on the mats. When it began burning the wrestlers he knew he was using too much, but also knew that “those mats were definitely clean.” And keeping them that way means everything. Nothing consumes Smith’s attention more and some say he’s crazy. Smith just says, “But, hey, I’m careful.”

For more information about Hibiclens and the MRSA infection please visit http://www.staphsuperbug.com

Press Release Submitted On: August 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm
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