As your youth hockey organization’s medical coordinator, I felt it was warranted to comment on the recent press coverage of skin infections caused by the organism referred to as MRSA. This coverage has included information regarding transmission of the disease among young athletes. For the non-physician / non-nurse/ non-microbiologist, I will attempt to provide you some information that I hope you will find valuable.
MRSA or methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus are bacteria that are responsible for mainly infections of the skin, blood stream and lungs. It is similar in many ways to non-resistant S. aureas, so called methicillin sensitive S. aureus (MSSA). MRSA was at first primarily a hospital-acquired infection, with only small numbers of community-associated cases. However, it is now an increasingly prevalent community-associated pathogen. The antibiotic methicillin was introduced in 1959. As early as 1960, cases of MRSA were identified. In some communities, MRSA is the most common organism causing skin infections. Some relevant risk factors for developing infection include:
- Skin trauma
- Lineman or linebacker position in football
- Cosmetic body shaving
- Physical contact with a person who has a draining lesion or is a carrier of MRSA
- Sharing equipment that is not cleaned or laundered between users
- Military personnel
- Prior skin infection
- Illicit drug use
- Previous antibiotic use
There is good antibiotic therapy for MRSA in both intravenous and oral forms. This infection only rarely causes severe disease, usually in the elderly or in people with suppressed immunity. Our risk can be attenuated by certain practices.
*Good hygiene, especially bathing, and hand washing will reduce the spread
*Avoid direct contact with the infected skin of others
*Hockey equipment should not be shared if a player has a skin infection
*Cleaning, or at least drying thoroughly, hockey equipment between uses is a good idea
*Skin infections should be evaluated by your children’s physicians
*Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics
The health of our children is paramount. Skin infections can be prevented and effectively treated when they occur, even those caused by MRSA. I hope this information was helpful. There is much more available at the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa.html
Dr. Mark J. Marshall
Salisbury Youth Hockey.