Skin infections are far less serious than concussion and musculoskeletal injury. Even though morbidity is lower, skin infections contribute significantly to time loss in sports. To optimize athletic performance and to minimize the risk of spread of these contagious skin diseases, the clinician must accurately diagnose and aggressively treat these problems. A recent report from The Center for Disease Control has identified a cluster of outbreaks of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSRA) in athletes . Typically, MSRA has been associated with debilitated or seriously ill patients in hospitals or other institutional settings. Outbreaks in competitive sports have been recorded in Colorado, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and southern California. Sports involved in these outbreaks include fencing, football, and wrestling. . State health department epidemiological investigations of these outbreaks identified risk factors for spread, many of which have already been discussed in the context of other skin diseases in athletes. The risk factors are: abrasions or skin trauma occurring in the normal course of the sport, skin-to-skin contact among players, and use of clothing (sometimes protective) that might be shared by athletes . To protect athletes and to minimize the risk of occurrence and spread, physicians, athletic trainers, coaches and athletes must be aware of the new threat of MRSA skin infections and consider this possibility when bacterial skin infections present to the office or training room. It is equally important for athletes and coaches to adopt and reinforce methods of prevention that have been discussed in reference to other skin infections. Once identified as MRSA skin infections, parenteral antibiotics are required to eradicate this staph species.
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