Hmm... Something else to give the obsessive compulsives and hypochondriacs to worry about.
Yep... It's a problem. Basically we're talking about Staphylococcus aureus, which is a bacterium present everywhere. Normally they don't bother healthy people. But staph infections kill people in hospitals because their wounds are exposed and they sometimes are immunosuppressed.
Normally people suffering from superficial or more systemic staph infections could be treated with antibiotics. But because people have been abusing antibiotics, we now are breeding super bugs that are resistant to most if not all known antibiotics. MRSA is one of those super bugs, and it's obviously becoming alarmingly prevalent.
The biggest problem isn't with karateka, but rather with grapplers. With the athletes grinding their bodies into each other and on mats, they have a higher risk of transmitting the bacteria. Wrestlers unfortunately are vulnerable to all kinds of skin infections including body lice, scabies, herpes, impetigo, etc. Vigilance and extra attention to cleanliness is important.
On a personal level, the recommendations at the end of the article are important. And all these items are just common sense.
- Don't share towels, razors, or uniforms when playing sports or working out.
- Put a clean towel over gym equipment or sauna bench before using.
- Shower after working out.
- Keep cuts and scratches clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
- Avoid hot tubs if you've got an open wound.
- Wash hands regularly.
- Before allowing healthcare workers to touch you, ask if they've washed their hands.
- Use antibiotics sparingly.
- If already infected, make sure that open wounds are covered with clean, dry bandages and that linens and clothes that may have become soiled are washed in hot water and laundry detergent and placed in a hot dryer rather than air-drying.
- See a doctor if you have a skin cut that appears infected and isn't healing. Don't try to drain a boil yourself.