Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Health

Want to know more about MRSA and athletes? Here are some answers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers confirmed last week that a third player was diagnosed with a MRSA infection — something that isn't such a big surprise if you consider that up to 20 percent of healthy people carry the bacteria. But only a relatively small percentage become infected and develop potentially serious symptoms, which, if left untreated or treated too late, can be life-threatening.

What we know as MRSA is Staphylococcus aureus, a very common bacteria found on the skin and in the nose which usually don't cause any problems. Until they get inside the body. Once inside or under the skin, the bacteria work fast to cause a painful infection that can be difficult to beat and is resistant to most available antibiotics, which explains the first part of its name: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA for short.

To learn more about this infection, the Times spoke with Morton Plant Mease infectious disease specialist Dr. Brent Laartz.

Why is it that so many people carry the staph bacteria but most never develop an infection?

We don't know. Some people just get colonized, which is what we call it when they carry the bacteria. Three to 7 percent of them will develop an infection. All it takes is a small opening in the skin for an infection to get started.

Why does it seem to target athletes?

Athletes, especially football players and wrestlers, come in close contact with each other's skin. A sport may also lend itself to injuries, cuts, bruises, scrapes, any kind of wound, and the bacteria can invade. Plus, locker rooms are usually dark, warm, moist places, which bacteria like, and there are lots of shared surfaces and objects that can come in contact with the skin, like benches, sinks, floors, towels. Brush up against someone who is colonized or something they've touched, and, if there's an opening in your skin, you may become infected.

How long can the bacteria survive on a surface?

In a moist, warm environment, it could be days. On a dry surface, a few hours. Professional teams are aware of this and use cleaning solutions and techniques to minimize risk, so personal contact, I think, is probably the greater threat to players.

Why is it that one infected player can return to the sport and another can't?

Everyone is different. It depends on where the infection is — if it's on the foot and you're a kicker, that can be disabling. But if you're a lineman, you may be able to play with an infection on your foot. If your treatment has involved receiving intravenous antibiotics and you have what we call a PICC line, you wouldn't be able to play with that on your body. (A PICC — peripherally inserted central catheter — is a tube surgically inserted into a vein, usually in the upper arm, to deliver medication for weeks or months.)

Isn't it unusual to be on antibiotics for months?

Not with MRSA. If the wound hasn't healed, the doctor might continue antibiotics. Typically, you give a course of treatment, stop the medication and see if the infection recurs or the wound gets worse. Some patients will do well with oral medication. Some need IV medications. Others will need antibiotics and surgery — surgery to drain and clean out the wound.

Have we made any headway with finding better antibiotics to fight MRSA?

A few are being investigated, but the number of new antibiotics has decreased steadily over the past two or three decades. We used to see two or three new antibiotics a year. Now we are getting one or two every other year. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and infectious disease specialists are working to increase funding for research in this field.

MRSA used to be confined to hospitals and nursing homes. How did it jump out to the community?

The strain of MRSA that is in the community is different from what we used to see in hospitals. It's a more aggressive strain infecting younger, healthier adults and some kids.

How do you know if you have a MRSA infection?

Watch for a wound or cut in the skin that quickly becomes red, warm, swollen and painful. It may also appear to be draining or have pus. Get immediate treatment. MRSA can go from a small, pimple-looking bump to a big, painful abscess overnight.

Comments
A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A sleep study revealed that less than six hours of sleep a day can limit the brain’s ability to function properly.The study, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people experiencing less than...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Josephine Rizo survived chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but breast cancer treatment wrecked her finances.Money was already tight when doctors told the Phoenix resident she had an aggressive form of the disease. Then she took a pay cut after goin...
Published: 05/22/18

Hernando County officials gather to remedy ‘dearth of services’ for youth with mental illness

BROOKSVILLE — Educators, court officials, law enforcement officers and health care professionals met Friday to identify the best ways to keep local youth with mental illnesses out of the court system and provide treatment for those already in the sys...
Published: 05/22/18
Give your arms a workout, too

Give your arms a workout, too

In addition to appearance, it is very important to maintain strength in those arms, as they are needed for practically every upper body movement we perform. We often take our 23 arm muscles for granted, until we reach a point where it suddenly become...
Published: 05/22/18
Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Going long hours without eating isn’t good for us, we are often told. Our bodies need fuel regularly. Otherwise, we may become lethargic, tired and hungry. Our thinking can become mushy, our ability to work, and even play, hampered.Not so fast.A new ...
Published: 05/22/18
U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

TRENTON, N.J. — U.S. regulators Thursday approved the first drug designed to prevent chronic migraines. The Food and Drug Administration’s action clears the monthly shot Aimovig (AIM’-oh-vig) for sale. It’s the first in a new class of long-acting dru...
Published: 05/18/18
Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day, and the American Medical Association is encouraging people to monitor their blood pressure levels and get high blood pressure, or hypertension, under control. High blood pressure, sometimes referred to as the...
Published: 05/17/18
Study: Depression in men may lower chances for pregnancy

Study: Depression in men may lower chances for pregnancy

Women having trouble getting pregnant sometimes try yoga, meditation or mindfulness, and some research suggests that psychological stress may affect infertility. But what about men: Does their mental state affect a couple’s ability to conceive?The la...
Published: 05/17/18
Tampa General Hospital named among top 100 in U.S., second best in Florida

Tampa General Hospital named among top 100 in U.S., second best in Florida

TAMPA—Tampa General Hospital was named one of the top 100 hospitals in America for the fifth consecutive year, and second best in Florida, according to one health industry website.Tampa General is considered the best hospital in the Tampa area, accor...
Published: 05/16/18
Joe Redner asks Florida Supreme Court: Let me grow marijuana now

Joe Redner asks Florida Supreme Court: Let me grow marijuana now

Even though a circuit judge has ruled that Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner can grow and juice his own marijuana, he was barred from doing so until the appeals process is finished.So Redner’s lawyers filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court o...
Published: 05/15/18