Staph infection in the locker room

Lawton_Some call Staph Infection a superbug.  It's so easy to spread and almost impossible to treat - and, now its here.  A particularly virulent form of Staph Infection called MRSA.  Two people have died from this infection in the past week - a newborn baby and a football player.  MRSA can start as a boil and is very easy to spread by skin to skin contact, sharing towels or clothing.

And, much of its presence has been found on students who participate in contact sports.  Lawton football coaches have expressed a lot of concern, even though it's near the end of the season.  Lawton High Football Coach Randy Breeze says he is doing everything he can to see that his team stays safe.

Football players play it safe as much as possible by spraying and disinfecting their pads before they put them on.  The uniforms are laundered after every game and the equipment wiped down after every use.  "We do our own laundry every day," says Breeze.  "And as the players come to the laundry room they are passed out clean equipment."

After practice, the soiled gear is dropped off for the uniform unit to clean - and the same applies to game day gear.  "We discourage the use of sharing any equipment whatsoever," says Breeze.  "So every player's t-shirt on down is marked with his number on it."

A cleaning crew comes in and cleans the training room once a week to sanitize the actual training and locker room.  They wipe down the floors and other surfaces.  But, despite all the cleaning and disinfecting, he and his staff still worry about the threat of staph.  "This training room is supposed to be a sterile environment," he says.  "There's so much foot traffic through here there's no way you can get it as clean as say a doctor's office or emergency room - just because of the nature of athletics.

Athletic Trainer David Stanley sees infections of all kinds pretty often among his athletes.  One of the player's wounds caught his attention.  It started with an ingrown hair and has since grown.  Stanley says it's important to tend to any wound right away.  "If someone cut on the field, the coaches send the MTO to me and I put some type of antibiotic on it, and cover it up right then," he says.

The wound that concerned Stanley wasn't enough to send the athlete home or have him quarantined, but the doctor recommended that it be wrapped at all times - open wounds are a good way to spread staph.  Right now, LHS doesn't have a rule requiring players to shower before they leave the locker room.  They say it's something they may consider, though, to help keep the kids safe.

"I wish the kids would do a better job of showering after practices of games - and they don't do that very well," said Stanley.  "If they could do that, that would cut down on the instances [of staph infection]."  MacArthur Coach Ernie Manning says their locker room is cleaned and sanitized daily and that no students are permitted to leave the locker room with out showering.

Stanley says since the superbug is so prevalent these days, he'd like to see the school step up sanitation.  He says you can never be too safe.