Athletic Trainers Note Surge In Skin Infections
Athletic trainers are on the front-line when its comes to discovering health problems with students including those who have skin infections. In a recent update to an annual survey conducted by the Molnlycke Health Care at a National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) meeting, nearly 76% of 650 respondents noted that they have observed skin infections within the past twelve months.
Thankfully there is some good news to report: infection rates of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of staph infection that is resistant to many common antibiotics, has stabilized at 49%, the same rate reported last year. This was the fourth annual survey conducted by Molnlycke Health Care.
“While we would like to see the estimated number of skin infections decrease, we are encouraged by the role athletic trainers increasingly play in educating and supporting athletes, coaches and families,” said Marjorie J. Albohm, MS, ATC, president of NATA. “MRSA continues to be an issue our members face on and off the field, but so are heat exhaustion, H1N1 and head concussions. Athletic Trainers deal with everything from cuts and sprains to potentially life threatening injuries on a daily basis.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, most MRSA infections occur in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers. It’s known as health care-associated MRSA, or HA-MRSA. Older adults and people with weakened immune systems are at most risk of HA-MRSA. More recently, another type of MRSA has occurred among otherwise healthy people in the wider community. This form, community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA, is responsible for serious skin and soft tissue infections and for a serious form of pneumonia.
Of course, athletes have reason to be concerned that they could become infected by MRSA and are looking for ways to avoid infection. “Washing with a cleanser that contains CHG (chlorhexidine) can be especially helpful in amateur sports, since many athletes at that level do not shower immediately before or after activities. By washing even just the hands and arms before an activity, the risk of infection can be dramatically reduced,” said Jack Doornbos, executive director, Molnlycke Health Care.
Chlorhexidine, according to the Mayo Clinic, belongs to a group of medicines called antiseptic antibacterial agents. It is used to clean the skin after an injury or before surgery. It works by killing or preventing the growth of bacteria on the skin.
The National Football League (NFL) has been doing its part to limit MRSA outbreaks, offering a good model for university staff to follow. Recently, the NFL arranged for representatives of the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address the medical staff of all 32 NFL teams, after initially supplying team doctors and trainers with literature about staph infections.
Several notable MRSA cases caught the attention of NFL management, thus the strong response on the league’s part.
If you are a college athlete and suspect a skin infection, then visit your college’s infirmary or health clinic as soon as possible.
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