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The Running Doctor: MRSA in Sports

MRSA stands for the Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus infection. The skin is the athlete's first line of defense. It is exposed to friction and pressure in nearly every athletic event.

Any type of friction and pressure to the skin (such as abrasions, calluses, blisters and ingrown toenails) can cause skin trauma and subsequent infection.

Professional and college football players throughout the U.S. have died or been hospitalized from MRSA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (eDC) says MRSA is on the rise. It is more commonly seen in people attending health club and locker rooms or school gyms.

It is also possible for an athlete's foot fungus infection to turn into a MRSA infection if there is an open wound. Such an opening creates an avenue for contamination with MRSA.

The CDC reports that there is a great need to educate healthcare staff, coaches and players about risk factors for MRSA. The CDC has categorized these factors into the five C's: Close skin-to-skin contact, contaminated items such as towels, razors or soap, crowding, cleanliness and compromised skin integrity.

The main objective is to enforce the practice of good hygiene. For example, asking health club managers to clean equipment with antiseptic solution after a person has used it.

Always shower after every athletic workout. Launder clothing and uniforms after each use. Do not share towels, soaps or water bottles. Be sure to wear sandals in communal showers. As always, at the first sign of any infection, seek medical attention at once.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons and has a practice in Darien: The Foot & Ankle Institute of Darien. For more information, visit www.therunningdoctor.net.

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Dr. Robert F. Weiss