RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Incidence of Staphylococcus aureus nasal colonization and soft tissue infection among high school football players.

BACKGROUND: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) skin and soft tissue infections have been documented with increasing frequency in both team and individual sports in recent years. It also seems that the level of MRSA skin and soft tissue infections in the general population has increased.

METHODS: One hundred ninety athletes from 6 local high school football teams were recruited for this prospective observational study to document nasal colonization and the potential role this plays in skin and soft tissue infections in football players and, in particular, MRSA infections. Athletes had nasal swabs done before their season started, and they filled out questionnaires regarding potential risk factors for skin and soft tissue infections. Those enrolled in the study were then observed over the course of the season for skin and soft tissue infections. Those infected had data about their infections collected.

RESULTS: One hundred ninety of 386 available student athletes enrolled in the study. Forty-four of the subjects had nasal colonization with methicillin-susceptible S. aureus, and none were colonized with MRSA. There were 10 skin and soft tissue infections (8 bacterial and 2 fungal) documented over the course of the season. All were treated as outpatients with oral or topical antibiotics, and none were considered serious. Survey data from the preseason questionnaire showed 21% with skin infection, 11% with methicillin-susceptible S. aureus, and none with MRSA infection during the past year. Three reported a remote history of MRSA infection.

CONCLUSIONS: We documented an overall skin infection rate of 5.3% among high school football players over a single season. Our results suggest that skin and soft tissue infection may not be widespread among high school athletes in northeast Ohio.

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