During the 2003 football season, several members of the St. Louis Rams were diagnosed with skin infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant microbe called MRSA, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Infections with MRSA, which stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, are usually confined to hospitalized patients. However, in recent years, there have been reports of MRSA outbreaks in the community.
Eight MRSA-related skin abscesses occurred in five members of the St. Louis Rams football team, report Dr. Sophia V. Kazakova, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and her associates. Due to their large size, the abscesses needed to be lanced to facilitate drainage.
In each player, the abscesses developed at sites of turf burns on areas of skin not covered by a uniform. Another risk factor was the frequent use of antibiotics, averaging 2.6 antibiotic prescriptions per year among the players.
An epidemiologic investigation showed that trainers responsible for players’ wound care lacked regular access to hand hygiene. The fact that players often skipped showers before using communal whirlpools, and shared towels amongst themselves, perhaps contributed to the outbreak.
Isolates appeared to be identical to those from a competing football team and from various community-associated MRSA clusters and sporadic cases in the US, the authors report.
Kazakova’s team reports that “the CDC has initiated a collaboration with the National Collegiate Athletic Association in developing guidelines for the prevention and control of community-associated MRSA among college football players.”
SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, February 3, 2005.
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD