Athletes at Higher Risk for MRSA – Football players are at especially high risk!

Athletes at Higher Risk for MRSA – Football players are at especially high risk!

by Ed Susman
Contributing Writer, MedPage Today

PHILADELPHIA — Contact sports participants — particularly football players — are more than twice as likely as other athletes to be colonized with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), researchers reported here.

Contact sports athletes had higher odds of being colonized with MRSA [OR 2.36; 95% CI 1.13-4.93] than athletes playing noncontact sports, said Natalia Jimenez-Truque, PhD, a research instructor at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, Nashville.

At an IDWeek press conference Jimenez said that contact sports players — defined for the study as varsity athletes engaged in football, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer — tended to carry S. aureus for longer periods of time (intermittent carriage OR 3.60; 95% CI 2.02-6.40; persistent carriage OR, 2.39; 95% CI 1.21-4.72), and they also tended to acquired S. aureus more quickly [HR 1.61; 95% CI 1.02-2.55].

“In this study we found that up to 31% of athletes who play contact sports carry MRSA, and up to 23% of those who play noncontact sports carry MRSA,” Jimenez said, in contrast to the general public where MRSA is found in about 10% of people.

“In our study we found that those who did not carry S. aureus at baseline acquired these bacteria much more quickly and carry these bacteria for much longer periods of time if they are playing contact sports than if they play noncontact sports,” she said. “This may be because in contact sports athletes have more cuts and scrapes and turf burns and have more skin-to-skin contact. That may play a role in facilitating the spread of these bacteria.”