The Chicago Bears have the week off this Sunday, but did you know that three players on another NFL team – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – have been sidelined and made news in recent weeks for infections that began in their feet?
Three Bucs players have been diagnosed with MRSA. The list includes: lineman Carl Nicks, cornerback Johnthan Banks, and Lawrence Tynes, who was diagnosed in August.
NFL.com reported that Nicks missed the first two games of the season, then returned to the field before an infection came back in his left foot. Meanwhile, cbsnews.com reported, Tynes was sidelined with an ingrown toenail when he was diagnosed with MRSA.
MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is sometimes called a “super bug” because this strain of bacteria has become resistant to most antibiotics.
Here are some facts about the bacteria, commonly referred to as “staph infections,” from webmd.com:
· Plenty of healthy people carry regular “staph” without being infected by it – 25 to 30 percent of the population has staph bacteria in their nose.
· Staph can become a problem if it gets into the body, usually through a cut. Once there, it can cause an infection.
· Staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections nationwide. Most of the time, these are minor and don't need special treatment. Less often, staph can cause serious issues such as infected wounds or pneumonia.
The Centers for Disease Control reports the risk of infection can be increased with activities that involve crowding, skin-to-skin contact and sharing equipment. Folks such as athletes, students, members of the military in barracks may be at higher risk.
This kind of skin infection can be spread through contact with an infected wound, such as showers or sharing towels, razors that touched infected skin.
Due to unnecessary overuse of antibiotics (such as taking antibiotics for a viral infection such as a cold,) or people not finishing the complete course of antibiotics, bacteria such as staph can mutate and become resistant to them. MRSA is staph on steroids – standard penicillin and other types of antibiotics cannot kill it off. When this happens, strong antibiotics may need to be infused through the veins, and the infected site may need to be surgically drained. Left untreated, this bacteria can invade deeper into tissue and may pose a serious health risk.
As podiatrists, Dr. Michelle Kim and Dr. Diana Emini suspect that walking barefoot in the locker room may have caused the spread of this nasty bug among the Bucs players. Lesson learned: Always wear shower shoes in public such as the pool or the gym! If you suspect you have any sort of foot infection -- an ingrown nail, a wart, or fungus – call DM Foot & Ankle Associates for an evaluation.