A third player on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team has been diagnosed with an infection of the highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as MRSA, team officials said today.
The third infected player was not identified, but two teammates, Carl Nicks and Lawrence Tynes, were diagnosed in August with infections of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik made the announcement during a news conference along with Duke Infection Control Outreach Network (DICON) Co-Director Dr. Deverick Anderson.
Despite of the close timing of the infections of Nicks and Tynes, they had two different MRSA strains, Anderson said.
It was unclear whether the third player was infected by one of those MRSA strains and Dominik said officials have not pinpointed any specific source of infection.
"This is likely related to day-to-day activity that we all do," said Anderson, who noted that football players are more at risk for MRSA infections due to the physical toll of the game.
Buddy Creech, assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said that many people carry the MRSA bacteria on their skin but the tackles and hits endured by football players leave them more vulnerable to infection.
"The nature of the game is where the abrasions of the skin is a dime a dozen," Creech said, noting that studies conducted among college football players have revealed that those athlete carry staph bacteria in their nostrils "at a higher frequency than the rest of us."
Though it was unusual for three players to have MRSA infections on one team, it doesn't necessarily mean there has been a lapse in hygiene, Creech said.
About a third of people carry Staphylococcus aureus bacteria their noses at any given time and one-fifth or one-sixth of that will be MRSA, Creech said.
"Even when we take the best precautions possible, like having trainers washing hands between players .. we can still get infections," said Creech, who explained the MRSA strain is "part of our normal bacteria make-up."