Should Athletes be Screened for Contagious Skin Infections Before Being Permitted to Participate in Sports?

It seems like wise if not common sense: screening athletes for potentially dangerous or deadly skin infections so you can help prevent the unnecessary spread of contagious skin infections. However, the reality is that currently there are no sweeping mandates that require any athletic team scholastically, recreationally, professionally or otherwise to test players for infections including MRSA, Staph and Impetigo.

Just this month, we heard about ten students at the Chaparral High School in Temecula, CA, who have been allegedly diagnosed with both Staph and Impetigo bacterial infections. A letter was sent home informing parents. The school took immediate action and their custodial team disinfected all of their athletic facilities including their wrestling rooms, weight rooms, locker room and even the nurse’s office.

The school also removed the ten students from all physical education activities as well as wrestling and weight lifting advising them that they may only return after they have been cleared by a doctor and have the proper paperwork. The letter, which was emailed, basically stated that it was simply making parents aware what steps have been taken. In other words, it wasn’t intended to cause alarm or create a stir.

The students were all made to watch a video in PE class which emphasized the importance of hand washing and maintaining proper hygiene. The PE teachers also instructed them on the many contagious and potentially dangerous skin infections including MRSA, Staph, and impetigo. They were taught how these infections can be transmitted to other people as well as how highly resistant many of them like MRSA are to typical antibiotic treatment.

While all of these measures are productive and necessary, there are many experts who argue that they are simply reactionary rather that proactive. This would raise the question regarding whether athletes should be screened for these skin infections before being allowed to compete or even practice their given sport. Ten people to test positive within one school is high. It’s likely that the students didn’t realize the potential or danger they were facing and it is also likely that these students didn’t realize they had these infections until there were obvious or visible symptoms.

It could be that cost plays a factor in whether athletes are tested. Currently, nasal swabs would be the best indicator or whether an infection such as staph or MRSA were present, but these tests are costly and some argue unnecessary. However, given the rising costs to properly diagnose and treat MRSA after symptoms are present while in a hospital can be staggering.

While it may be impossible to prevent contagious skin infections like these from ever happening, we can all take some common sense precautions to make sure that we significantly reduce our risks for becoming infected. Prevention is the best medicine and keeping yourself clean and healthy and your athletic equipment disinfected with Clear Gear Disinfectant Sports Spray certainly puts you ahead of the game.