But what most likely will end the career of Giants tight end Daniel Fells wasn’t a tackle gone wrong, but a microscopic foe that invaded his foot.
One that strikes fear in hospitals everywhere called MRSA (which stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
And you don’t have to be playing in a team sport — or even be in the hospital — to come down with a MRSA infection. Because this contagious and very drug-resistant bacteria can be picked up almost anywhere.
But there are four simple steps you can take right now that could keep you from battling to save a limb, like Fells.
Or even fighting for your life.
A major league infection could lead to loss of life or limb
Fells had at least 10 surgeries to stop the spread of MRSA, which he may have gotten in the Giants’ locker room. It moved up his leg and thankfully he didn’t have to sacrifice his entire foot to save his life.
And he’s not the first NFL player to be stuck down with MRSA. It’s hit the Browns, Redskins, Buccaneers and Rams, as well as college athletes.
Sports like football – where there is plenty of contact, lots of open sores, and bacteria-infested locker rooms – make the spread of MRSA easy.
But athletes aren’t the only ones who are at risk.
Anytime you hit the gym or sports club where equipment is shared, that dumbbell or spin bike handlebar can be contaminated. Just about everyone is walking around with some kind of staph bacteria on their skin, and a percentage of that will be the MRSA variety.
But MRSA won’t hurt you as long as it stays on your skin or even in your nose. But once it gets inside your body and infects the tissue and bone, that’s when the trouble begins.
The worst-case scenario is when it enters your bloodstream. That can send it to your heart and brain, and things can quickly become a life-or-death scenario.
Treating antibiotic resistant MRSA is hit or miss
And since MRSA is resistant to a lot of antibiotics, treating it is a hit-or-miss situation.
“Very aggressive bacteria, very hearty, very difficult to eradicate,” is how Dr. Derek Ochiai, a surgeon in Maryland, describes MRSA. “It’s resistant to all the penicillins you would normally use.”
And even telling the difference in the first place between MRSA and a less dangerous kind of infection can be difficult. So be especially alert for very painful boils or pimples that can be red, swollen and filled with pus. Often people mistake a MRSA infection for a spider bite, which is why having a culture done is so important.
Of course, even more important is avoiding a MRSA infection to begin with.
4 tips to help you avoid MRSA
So here are four very important tips that will help you to do just that.
1. Wipe down equipment:
When you’re at the gym, wipe down any equipment before you use it with either alcohol or a hand sanitizer.
2. Keep wounds covered:
If you have any cuts – especially on your hands – keep them covered, even if they seem insignificant. You don’t have to be in the hospital, sick or weak, to be at risk for this infection.
3. Don’t share bath items:
Never share towels, soap or razors.
4. Wash your hands!:
Wash your hands often and wash them well. Anti-bacterial soap isn’t necessary, but lathering up for long enough with soap and water is.
And if you think you may have been exposed to someone with a MRSA infection, perhaps while visiting someone in the hospital, make sure to wash the clothes you were wearing as soon as you get home. And use the dryer instead of a clothesline.
When you’re dealing with something as microscopic as MRSA, the smallest things you do might make the biggest difference in avoiding it. And that’s true no matter how big, strong and healthy you are.
“Sources: Doctors optimistic Daniel Fells won’t lose foot from infection” Dan Graziano, ESPN, espn.go.com
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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