This article is part of our Injury Analysis series.
The Tampa Bay facilities were recently treated after several players, including guard Carl Nicks and kicker Lawrence Tynes, were diagnosed with a specific type of staph infection known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
A staph infection involves the Staphylococcus group of bacteria. These types of bacteria are common, with almost a third of the general population carrying some form of staph somewhere on their body, most frequently in the nose. Staph infections do not occur until the bacterium finds its way into an open sore or wound. The resulting infection is often minor but in some extreme cases can lead to high fever and other serious complications. Fortunately, a majority of staph infections are treatable with penicillin-type antibiotics. However, MRSA, the particular strain found in Tampa, does not respond to these medications and can be more problematic to manage and as a result more dangerous. Fortunately for those infected with MRSA, treatments still exist and often include draining and cleaning the area while receiving an antibiotic known as vancomycin.
Athletes are at an increased risk for developing a staph infection because the bacteria thrive in sweaty, damp places, making a locker room the perfect breeding ground. The NFL has had several teams manage MRSA outbreaks in recent years, including St. Louis in 2003 and Cleveland starting in 2006. In both cases the outbreaks led to building sanitization and a change in basic day-to-day hygiene procedures.
In the meantime, Nicks and Tynes will continue to receive treatment for their