MRSA and Pro Football

No FootballAccording to a piece in The Bleacher Report  today, Tampa Bay and Philly may not play their Week 6 game – kickoff at 1:00 pm ET on Sunday, October 13 – because of MRSA. It’s hard to imagine these big guys calling off a game for any reason, let alone a germ. Then again, the NFL’s Around the League reported on Friday that “the league had no plans that would affect Sunday’s scheduled game between the Buccaneers and the Philadelphia Eagles.” Under ordinary conditions, I’d go with the NFL’s comments, but MRSA is no ordinary bug. 

According to the Mayo Clinic site, MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It’s an infection that’s caused be a type of staph bacteria that is very difficult to treat. The difficulty lies in the fact that this particular strain of bacteria has become resistant to the antibiotics usually used to treat it. (Remember when your doctor said to finish the entire prescription even though you were feeling better?)

Some types of MRSA are common in hospital environments, but there is also CA-MRSA. This Community-associated MRSA “often begins as a painful skin boil. It is spread by skin-to-skin contact.” Enter the NFL where three members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the infection. The problem is, it’s not just difficult to treat. It can cause serious health issues. In people with a compromised immune system, those health issues can be as dire as septicemia, heart-valve problems, and toxic shock syndrome.

So – what does this mean for the National Football League Players Association? Clearly, they want to contain this dangerous infection. Since it’s spread by skin-to-skin contact and football is a contact sport, it’s going to be tough to do during a game. NFL players get banged up and injured all the time, but that’s not the same as knowing you can wind up with something that can lead to keeping you benched – or worse – for part of the season. Bottom Line? It’s a fluid situation and there’s no real way to be sure right now.

Watch Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik and Dr. Deverick Anderson address the most recent MRSA infections that have hit the team.

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