MRSA: Protecting student athletes
What can schools do to prevent MRSA infections?
Athletic equipment and locker rooms should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. There's no evidence that spraying or fogging rooms or surfaces with disinfectant works any better than just focusing on frequently touched surfaces — such as wrestling mats, weight training equipment and locker room benches.
What can athletes do to prevent MRSA infections?
To help prevent the spread of MRSA infections:
- Wash your hands. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer. Clean your hands before and after playing sports, using shared weight training equipment, and changing a bandage on a wound.
- Take showers. Shower immediately after exercise. Don't share items that touch your bare skin — such as bar soap, razors or towels.
- Use barriers. Cover cuts and scrapes with a bandage to keep germs out. Lay a towel down to act as a barrier between your skin and benches in locker rooms, saunas and steam rooms.
- Wash your uniform. Follow the laundering directions on your uniform's label. Dry clothes completely in a dryer. Wash your uniform after each use.
If you suspect an MRSA infection, what should you do?
Don't try to treat the infection yourself. Go to your doctor. Minor MRSA skin infections usually heal after being drained. If the infection doesn't heal well or gets worse, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics that are still effective against MRSA. If the infection is severe, you may need to be hospitalized. In rare cases, MRSA infections can become life-threatening.
When can the athlete return to play?
The National Athletic Trainers' Association recommends that suspicious lesions be tested for MRSA and that the athlete not be allowed to return to play until:
- The athlete has taken an appropriate antibiotic for at least 72 hours
- Drainage from the wound has stopped
- No new lesions have developed in the past 48 hours
(2 of 2)
- Lee AS, et al. Control of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America. 2011;25:155.
- Jaworski CA, et al. Infectious disease. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 2011;30:575.
- MRSA infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/index.html. Accessed May 1, 2013.
- Ciocca M, et al. The athlete's pharmacy. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 2011;30:629.
- Liu C, et al. Clinical practice guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America for the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in adults and children. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2011;52:e18.
- Zinder SM, et al. National Athletic Trainers' Association position statement: Skin Diseases. Journal of Athletic Training. 2010;45:411.