• Infections of methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (also known as a “Staph Infection”) cannot be treated by standard antibiotics.
  • “Community” is used to describe the bacteria which can be found on many public surfaces – especially at schools, athletic facilities and hospitals – and are spread by direct contact.


  • Schools reported that CA-MRSA infections rose from 4.4% in 2007 to 14.4% in 2008.
  • At least a quarter of the population is colonized with CA-MRSA bacteria on the skin or nasal passages but the infection rate is much lower.

Signs and Symptoms

  • CA-MRSA appears as a be soft-tissue or skin infection.
  • Initially, the presentation may be described as an “insect bite” but the size and severity of the skin irritation will increase as the infection continues.
  • Symptoms include a limited area of redness, warmth and swelling on the skin and possibly moderate to severe pain at the site.
  • The skin irritation may become an abscess and could progress to a life-threatening illness if left untreated.

At-Risk Groups

  • The following groups of people are at a greater risk of CA-MRSA infection:
  • Children less than 2 years old
  • Minority populations
  • Athletes
  • People who live in close quarters
  • Those using immune-suppressing medications and drugs
  • Athletes who participate in contact sports are at greater risk for infection.

Methods of Transmission

  • CA-MRSA bacteria can be spread by the following methods:
  • Crowding
  • Frequent Skin Contact
  • Comprised Skin (cuts, scrapes, wounds)
  • Sharing Personal Care Items
  • Direct Contact with Contaminated Surfaces
  • Lack of Cleanliness (handwashing, showering after workouts)


  • Consult a physician to determine appropriate course of treatment.
  • Prescription antibiotics should be administered orally or intravenously.
  • Notify public health authorities in the case of a suspected outbreak.

Return to Play

  • Athletes may return to play once antibiotic treatment has commenced and risk of transmission has been significantly reduced.
  • Abrasions should be covered during athletic participation.
  • Evaluate the athlete for signs of recurrence or worsening symptoms.

Player Prevention

  • Teams should not share towels, used athletic gear or personal care items.
    • Change and wash clothing and towels frequently.
    • Only lend clean clothing to a teammate; it should be laundered before it is returned.
  • Wear sport sandals after activity and keep a change of socks handy.
    • According Grant Hill, the most important tip that he would give to a young athlete would be to change their socks frequently.
  • Shower after practices, workouts and games and wash hands regularly.
    • Basketball players who often bring their hands to their mouths or remove their mouth guards should always use hand sanitizer and consider discontinuing the practice.
    • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer after playing or shaking hands at the end of the games.

Coach and Trainer Precautions

  • Model excellent health and hygiene habits.
  • Dispose of all bandages and used first aid supplies safely.
  • Disinfect mats, training tables and dressing room facilities regularly.


  • Hawkes, M., Barton, M., Conly, J., Nicolle, L., Barry, C., & Ford-Jones, E. L. (2007). Community-associated MRSA. Canadian Medical Association Journal , 176 (1), 54-56.
  • Martinez, J. M., & Ho, S. S. (2011, July 27). MRSA Skin Infection in Athletes . Retrieved January 9, 2012, from Medscape: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/108972

Leave a Comment