There is a serious issue going on in Tampa Bay, and Iâ€™m not talking about Josh Freeman. Last week, two players for the Buccaneers were found to be infected with a disease called MRSA, or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA and the NFL have some history together and, hopefully, no team takes this issue lightly.
MRSA is a serious staph infection that is resistant to most antibiotics that treat staph infections. It spreads easily in crowded areas or areas where skin-to-skin contact happens regularly. It is happening more and more often among football players and has started to become a serious problem. Studying where these players might contract MRSA, I came across what seems like an arbitrary reason. Typically, an athlete contracts MRSA through abrasions caused by artificial turf. It seems so simple and yet, it can be life-threatening.
Just ask Lawrence Tynes. The Buccaneers kicker decided to get a second opinion on his toe after his â€œingrown toenailâ€ didnâ€™t heal and became infected. MRSA is can be treated but, because of the serious resistant-nature of the infection, the right medicine can quickly become useless. On Tuesday, Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said both players (Carl Nicks was also infected with MRSA) were responding well to treatment but obviously that was not entirely the truth. Tynesâ€™s wife, Amanda, decided to set the record straight:
— Amanda Tynes (@AmandaTynes9) August 28, 2013
Pictured is Tynes on a PICC line (a peripherally inserted central catheter) that administers his medication in a large vein that goes straight to the heart.
In response to these two playersâ€™ infections, the Buccaneers and Patriots both treated their facilities. They both remember how MRSA devastated the Browns facility over the years. Ben Taylor, LeCharles Bentley, and Joe Jurevicius can owe the end of their careers to MRSA they contracted while with the Cleveland Browns, the latter two of which sued the Browns. Three other players also contracted the infection, including Kellen Winslow, who accused the Browns of forcing him to cover it up. I must point out that I am not implying that the facility was at fault for all of the infections. But, it is pretty coincidental, and we should all hope that the Browns did everything in their power to get rid of the disease. We know that the Buccaneers and Patriots are at least taking the same precaution. With the added incentive of avoiding litigation, no NFL facility wants this disease in their locker rooms.
Dr. Daniel Sexton, an infectious disease specialist in an interview with TIME.com,
says it can be fairly simple to prevent the spread of the infection through simple things like washing hands and not shaving arms or legs. In addition, not sharing towels, cleaning weight-training and therapy equipment, or showering before entering whirlpools would all help to prevent the spread of the disease, according to a 2005 New England Journal of Medicine article about the infection amongst the St. Louis Rams.
It seems that the NFL has learned its lesson when it comes to this disease. After all, it is in the best interest of the league and the players to avoid the spread of MRSA. But, that means teams must take this seriously. The Buccaneers and the Patriots are taking the correct measures in order to avoid further negative consequences. With all of the research and information available, I would be surprised if there wasnâ€™t a program in place to teach players about the dangers of MRSA and how to avoid it. If there wasnâ€™t before, there should be one now.