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Facility Operators Hope to Protect Against MRSA

Tips for athletics and fitness facility operators hoping to protect against the spread of MRSA.

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA - the potentially deadly infection that lurks in locker rooms and other germ-heavy athletics environments - has shut down teams, postponed seasons and even become the stuff of lawsuits aimed at education institutions.

Often marked by boils and pus-producing skin lesions, MRSA infections very rarely require emergency hospitalizations and can typically be remedied with proper skin care, the draining of pus and/or antibiotic treatments. Still, an infection that enters the bloodstream and infiltrates internal organs can spread rapidly and become life-threatening - prospects that certainly warrant consideration from athletics and fitness facility operators looking to shield themselves from liability and protect their athletes' and patrons' health. The following are tips for protecting against the spread of MRSA in active environments:

Encourage athletes or club patrons to wash their hands.

They should use soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer upon entering and leaving the premises or after skin-to-skin contact with other people. Also, provide sanitary hand-drying solutions, such as air-dryers or disposable paper towels. Encourage shower use immediately after workouts, games and practices.

Clean and cover cuts and scrapes until they are fully healed.

Avoid secondhand contact with bandages that have dressed skin wounds.

Discourage skin-to-skin contact.

While this may be an impractical solution for, say, a football or wrestling program, direct contact with infected wounds is the most frequent means of MRSA transmission. It is also recommended that you discourage the sharing of unclean items that typically have direct contact with skin, such as uniforms and equipment padding, as well as personal items like towels and razors.

Wash towels and uniforms in water that is at least 160 degrees.

Use a hot-dry cycle rather than an air-dry cycle, and make sure washed items are completely dry before distribution. On a related note, remind users of shared exercise equipment about the importance of using clean towels as barriers between equipment and bare skin, and of using sanitizing spray or wipes before and after working out on a piece of equipment.

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