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Preventing Spread Of MRSA and Other Communicable Diseases

The National Athletic Trainers' Association therefore recommends that precautions be taken to prevent the spread of communicable and infectious diseases such as impetigo, community acquired methicillin-resistant staphylococcus infection (MRSA) and herpes gladiatorum (a form of herpes virus that causes lesions on the head, neck and shoulders) among high school athletes, and that a certified athletic trainer (AT) be employed to evaluate and treat these skin conditions and prevent them from spreading to other team members. .

Here are the NATA's guidelines for proper prevention of communicable diseases that can be spread by athletic participation:

  • Immediately shower after each practice or competition.
  • Wash all athletic clothing worn during practice or competition daily.
  • Clean and disinfect gym bags and/or travel bags, if the athlete is carrying dirty workout gear home to be washed and then bringing clean gear back to school in the same bag (note: this problem can also be prevented by using disposable bags for practice laundry).
  • Wash athletic gear (such as knee or elbow pads) periodically and hang to dry.
  • Clean and disinfect protective equipment such as helmets, shoulder pads, catcher's equipment and hockey goalie equipment on a regular basis.
  • Do not share towels or personal hygiene products with others.
  • All skin lesions should be covered before practice or competition to prevent risk of infection to the wound and transmission of illness to other participants; only skin infections that have been properly diagnosed and treated may be covered to allow participation of any kind.
  • All new skin lesions occurring during practice or competition should be properly diagnosed and treated immediately.
  • Playing fields should be inspected regularly for foreign objects and debris that could cause cuts or abrasions.
  • Playing fields should be inspected regularly for animal droppings that could cause bacterial infections of cuts or abrasions.
  • Athletic lockers should be sanitized between seasons.
  • Rather than carpeting, locker or dressing rooms should have tile floors that can not only be cleaned, but also sanitized.
  • Wrestling and gymnastics mats should be sanitized daily.
  • Weight room equipment "including benches, bars and handles" should be cleaned and sanitized daily.
Source: National Athletic Trainer's Association