OBSERVATIONAL STUDY
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Staphylococcus aureus and community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) in and around therapeutic whirlpools in college athletic training rooms.

CONTEXT: Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) has become a leading cause of skin and soft tissue infection in the nonhospitalized community. Care of the athletes in athletic training rooms is specifically designed with equipment tailored to the health care needs of the athletes, yet recent studies indicate that CA-MRSA is still prevalent in athletic facilities and that cleaning methods may not be optimal.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus and CA-MRSA in and around whirlpools in the athletic training room.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I university.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Student-athletes (n = 109) consisting of 46 men (42%) and 63 women (58%) representing 6 sports.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Presence of MRSA and Staphylococcus aureus in and around the whirlpool structures relative to sport and number of athletes using the whirlpools.

RESULTS: We identified Staphylococcus aureus in 22% (n = 52/240) of the samples and MRSA in 0.8% (n = 2/240). A statistically significant difference existed between the number of athletes using the whirlpool and the presence of Staphylococcus aureus in and around the whirlpools (F(2,238) = 2.445, P = .007). However, Staphylococcus aureus was identified regardless of whether multiple athletes used a whirlpool or no athletes used a whirlpool. We did not identify a relationship between the number of athletes who used a whirlpool and Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA density (P = .134).

CONCLUSIONS: Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA were identified in and around the whirlpools. Transmission of the bacteria can be reduced by following the cleaning and disinfecting protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Athletic trainers should use disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency to sanitize all whirlpools between uses.

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