According to a study conducted by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), participating in sports provides a perfect opportunity for the transmission of bacterial infections. The prolonged periods of sweating so often experienced by athletes during physical activity can lead to the development of moisture-related skin damage and provide an ideal environment for the spread of microorganisms, ultimately facilitating infection.
Outbreaks of skin infections have been increasingly reported in close-contact sports such as football, rugby and wrestling and are usually acquired as a result of physical interactions between team players, sharing changing room facilities and even using contaminated equipment (e.g. free weights). Bacteria commonly found in sporting environments capable of causing infection include Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus including the methicillin resistant Staph aureus (MRSA).
According to healthcare leaders across the globe, MRSA is one of the most dangerous Staphylococcal bacteria due to its worldwide notoriety as a ‘superbug’ and often symptomless presence in the human body. S. aureus can reside harmlessly on the skin and is frequently found in the nose and respiratory tract. Infection can manifest as wounds, abscesses, sinusitis and even food poisoning. The impact of Staph infection on the sporting world has recently been brought to light after martial arts expert, James Krause, contracted S. aureus following a leg injury during a match. Krause went on to spend an astonishing two weeks in hospital when medics initially struggled to treat his aggressive bacterial wound infection.
So, what does this mean for athletes across the world?
Although physical interaction in sport is unavoidable and spotless facilities are a mere pipe dream, there are a number of precautions that professional athletes and those responsible for their welfare can take to minimise exposure to Staphylococcus and many other types of pathogenic bacteria. These include:
- Maintaining good personal hygiene: including frequent handwashing with soap and water. If, like many others, you’re not sure what defines ‘washing your hands properly’, take a look at BioCote’s easily digestible guide.
- Thoroughly cleaning regularly frequented environments: the introduction of strict cleaning regimes is an essential part of infection control in any environment. As is the case with most changing room facilities, exposure to an abundance of dirty laundry and wet towels amongst other items makes for a microbial haven. Clothing in particular should be washed at a hot temperature subsequent to use and then thoroughly dried before reuse.
- Correctly managing hot and cold water systems: many training facilities, especially those found in football clubs, accommodate impressive pools, saunas and hot tubs. Improper maintenance means these warm, damp environments can often present the perfect breeding ground for Legionella, the bacterium behind the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ Disease.
- Utilising BioCote® protected products: BioCote® Antimicrobial Technology can be found in an array of different settings across the globe, permanently protecting products and materials from the negative effects of bacteria and mould. It is a well-known fact that cleaning in isolation is not enough to prevent the spread of infection which is why our technology is perfectly placed to benefit existing hygiene practices. BioCote® additives can be manufactured into any type of material, including plastics, ceramics and fabrics making it an ideal solution for professional sports environments which might otherwise be exposing athletes to illness-causing bacteria.
Whilst the problem of bacteria in sports is pervasive, a credible part of the solution is only a phone call away. Contact the team at BioCote today to find out more about our partner products and their applications: +44 (0)2477 712 489.