Another Staph Infection?

jurevicius.jpgThis time it is wide receiver Joe Jurevicius. According to the PD, Jurevicius had a rather routine knee clean-up at the Cleveland Clinic, and starting feeling symptoms a few weeks later. That makes at least 4 current Cleveland Browns that have had staph infections– Jurevicius, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and LeCharles Bentley. In addition, former Browns Brian Russell and Ben Taylor suffered infections while they were with the team as well. That’s 6 players in 4 years.

Obviously the most serious case has been LeCharles Bentley. (By the way, Jurevicius isn’t expected to miss any team activities or camps.) Bentley’s infection nearly cost him his life or his leg

Bentley’s first goal had to be to simply stay alive–something doctors said was touch and go for a while. He then had to fight off the infection quick enough to avoid having his leg amputated. He then needed a trio of further surgeries to repair the tendon and fix the problems caused by the staph infection. Only then could he even think about getting back onto the field. At the time, most optimistic observers hoped he’d be back for the 2008 season, while there was plenty of speculation that his career was over.

The Browns and the Cleveland Clinic say that they are doing everything that they can to prevent these infections. The Browns had the facility treated last year for the infections. They have cleaned and sanitized and say they are taking every precaution they can. You would expect that if the facility was to blame that the infections the Browns were suffering from would be similar, if not identical but that hasn’t been the case.

Dr. Steven Gordon, the Cleveland Clinic’s chairman of infectious control, said the Browns’ cases were isolated. “They weren’t all MRSA. There was no evidence of clustering,” he said. “Each of these cases stand on their own.”

So the next question I had was how many other teams are experiencing this? Is this the type of thing that is common, but unless it happens to your team you don’t pay attention? A 2006 article on a Dallas/Fort Worth news site claims that infections among athletes was a growing problem-

Football players, wrestlers and even fencers have contracted methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a serious superbug once isolated to hospitals and health-care settings that has found its way into locker rooms, weight rooms and athletic training facilities. Despite widely available information about the dangers of skin infections, staph has continued spreading.

“We don’t know why,” said Dr. Steve Gordon, the Cleveland Clinic’s department chairman of infectious disease. “It’s why we encourage everyone to practice proper hygiene, especially athletes who can be more at higher risk.”

Since 2003, at least three NFL teams — the Browns, St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins — have documented multiple cases of staph infections. Last summer, two Toronto Blue Jays players contracted staph, which prompted the club to have its clubhouse sterilized.

The Redskins have been fighting the same beast that the Browns seem to be losing to. In 2 years the Redskins had 5 players contract the same infection, which led to drastic measures in the off season-

In addition to spending $17,000 on a new Jacuzzi system that is equipped with an ultraviolet light filtering system designed to kill germs, the Redskins hired SportsCoatings Inc. to treat the training room, locker rooms and weight rooms with an anti-microbial coating the company claims will help kill various strains of the bacteria.

The St. Louis Rams have also had struggles, particularly in 2003 when 5 players suffered infections from turf burns. Their problem was so bad that even a few members of the San Francisco 49ers suffered from the infection after their game in St. Louis.

In 2003, Jeffrey Hageman, an epidemiologist with the CDC and expert in sports-related MRSA cases, investigated the St. Louis Rams and found that five of 58 players developed MRSA infections, likely from turf abrasions. In his research on the Rams, Hageman found linebackers, linemen and players of high body mass to be particularly susceptible.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Orlando Magic have also had trouble in the past few years. Former Cavalier Drew Gooden had a staph infection while a member of the Magic. Gooden said of his infection-

“I was in the most pain that I have ever felt ever in my life,” said Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden, who contracted a staph infection in his right leg three years ago while with the Orlando Magic. “I kept playing on it, thinking it was going to heal but the infection got worse and worse to the point where my leg swelled up and I couldn’t bend my knee.”

The problem in Jurevicius’ case is that he probably didn’t contract the infection at the Clinic or at the Browns’ facility. Not much the team can do about that. Unless they insist on some strange new warm-ups…