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Sports Camps Are MRSA Hot Spots

Washing hands, not sharing equipment key to prevention


As your child goes off to camp this summer, whether it be a sports- or old-fashioned general-interest camp, health experts say parents and kids need to be on the lookout for MRSA and other skin infections.  Because kids at camp live in close quarters where they tend to share athletic equipment, towels and clothing,  camps, especially sports camps, can be MRSA hot spots.

General prevention advice

Hand hygiene is the single most important factor in preventing the spread of MRSA.Child washing hands

Your child's camp should provide ready access to sinks, soaps, and clean paper towels throughout camp grounds, including cabins, dining areas, and other areas of common gathering.  In situations where access to sinks is limited (e.g., during hikes, outings, athletic events), camp staff should carry a container of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be use in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.  Advise camp staff if your child has known allergies to these products.

MRSA Prevention and Camp Athletics

  • Hand hygiene is the single most important factor in preventing the spread of MRSA.
  • Camp staff, coaches, and trainers should practice appropriate hand hygiene after contact with players, especially when changing bandages and providing wound care.
  • When assisting a camper or staff with application or changing of dressings, gloves should be worn and hands must be washed immediately after removing gloves.
  •  In situations where access to sinks is limited, carry individual containers of alcohol-based sanitizer. For recommendations on use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, click here.
  • Provide enough clean towels so players do not need to share them.
  • Educate players on appropriate management of all wounds.
  • Wounds (e.g., cuts, scrapes, abrasions) should be completely and securely covered at all atime, particularly during competition (e.g., bandaged and use of protective sleeve).

Specific guidance for players

Parents should advise their child:

  • Not to share towels (even on the sidelines during games), washcloths, soap, razors, topical preparations, or other personal hygiene items with other players.
  • To shower with soap as soon as possible after EVERY practice or game.
  • Avoid contact with draining lesions and contaminated items (e.g., bandages) from other people.
  • Perform hand hygiene after using multi-use equipment (e.g., weight equipment) and after contact with potentially contaminated items (e.g., another person's wounds, infected skin, or soiled bandages).

Experts say be proactive because MRSA could turn life-threatening.

Parents: check your kids out when they come back from camp to make sure that little bumps on the skin don't pop up, and if they watch them very closely. If you think your child may have a staph infection, contact your doctor for the appropriate treatment.

Source: New York State Department of Health Health Advisory

Created June 23, 2010