Guidance on Preventing Spread of Infectious Diseases Associated with Organized Sports

Guidance on Preventing Spread of Infectious Diseases Associated with Organized Sports

Dr. Rebecca Butler is Board Certified in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is proud to be a resident of Lantana and the owner of Lantana Pediatrics. For more information on Lantana Pediatrics, Dr. Butler and/or Melanie Bitzer, CPNP or to schedule an appointment with one of these providers, call the office at 940.455.7200.

Most sports-related infections are spread by skin contact, contaminated food or water, respiratory droplets or airborne particles. About 10 to 15 percent of injuries that force college-level athletes to take time off from playing a sport are due to infectious disease, according to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics).

Common sicknesses spread by skin contact include Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA) ; Group A Streptococcus; herpes simplex virus; tinea capitis (ringworm); tinea pedis (athlete’s foot); scabies and lice.

Airborne infections that can be spread during athletic participation include the varicella zoster virus (chicken pox), measles and mumps, and other viral illnesses including influenza.

To minimize risks, the AAP recommends:

  • Teach student athletes proper personal hygiene, including proper laundering of uniforms and avoiding sharing of drinks or personal products, such as razors.
  • Develop a plan for cleaning and maintenance of sporting environment using guidelines such as those published by the American College of Sports Medicine.
  • Pay special attention to proper management of blood and other bodily fluids, just as hospitals have concentrated on preventing hospital-associated infections.
  • Routinely screen athletes during practices and before and after competitions
  • Identify the problems/infections and unsanitary conditions early. We want students not only to participate in sports, but to have a good experience and remain healthy.

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