No. 01] Texas high school football and MRSA (December 2007).
No. 02] “Synthetic turf breeds MRSA Staph," January 8, 2008.
[No. 14] WeberStateUniversity study (2013) debunks results of PennState study (2008) over presence of pathogen populations in artificial turf fields. The2008 PennState study by Andrew S. McNitt, PhD Soil Biology, Dianne Petrunak, M.S., Plant Pathology, titled “A survey of microbial populations in infilled synthetic turf fields,” is often cited to question the view that artificial turf fields harbor dangerous pathogens like the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) which is resistant to penicillin such as theMethicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that causes potentially fatal infection commonly referred to as Staph or MRSA. The study concluded that “there are generally lower numbers of total microbes present in the infill or fibers of the synthetic turf systems tested compared to natural turfgrass rootzones and Staphylococcus aureus bacterium were not found on any of the playing surfaces. Staphylococcus aureus bacterium were found on towels and other devices used to train athletes.”
The Synthetic Turf Council’s FAQ page (www.syntheticturfcouncil.org/page/FAQs ) relies on the PennState study to answer the Question: Are athletes playing on a synthetic turf more susceptible to MRSA/staph infections? Council’s answer: “MRSA and other staph infections strike due to poor hygiene, regardless of type of playing surface…. A PennStateUniversity study released in January 2009 … stated that synthetic turf is not a hospitable environment for microbial activity such as staph. The issue goes beyond abrasions, since athletes can get cuts on any playing field – from the most well-manicured or dirt-compacted natural grass to state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields that are regularly irrigated and cleaned.”
In 2013 Jason J. Bass, and David W. Hintze, two researchers at Weber State University, in Ogden, Utah, published a study entitled “Determination of Microbial Populations in a Synthetic Turf System,” in Skyline - The Big Sky Undergraduate Journal: Vol. 1: Iss. 1. According to the abstract of the study, which can be viewed at http://skyline.bigskyconf.com/journal/vol1/iss1/1/or here:
There is growing concern regarding the contribution of infilled turf fields on increased athlete infections. Abrasions that occur on these fields create a port of entry for pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus that are present on the athlete’s skin or possibly on the field’s surface. This study compares the occurrence of microbial populations on two infilled synthetic turf fields (year old turf vs. 6 year old turf) in three locations. Both fields were sampled once a week for at least 14 weeks (exact number varied on field and location) during the late summer and fall of a football season. Sites sampled included the sidelines, the middle of each field, and the end of each field. Tryptic Soy Agar was used to determine total microbial load, Mannitol Salt Agar for Staphylococcus, and Eosin Methylene Blue Agar to count the number of enteric organisms such as Escherichia coli. Much higher microbial populations were found on the older turf field with as much as a 104 increase over similar locations on the newer turf. This suggests microbial populations can accumulate in synthetic turf infill from year to year. When comparing the bacterial load on different areas of the field, the sideline had the highest counts with an average of 1.12x108 CFUs (colony forming units) per gram of rubber infill on the older field. On the new synthetic turf, the area with the highest number of total microorganisms was also the sideline, with an average of 2.5x105 CFUs per gram of infill. A high number of salt-tolerant bacteria were able to grow on MSA, indicating possible staphylococci, with an average of 2.77x102 CFUs per gram on the new field and 6.58x103 CFUs per gram on the older field. These results indicate that infill material can serve as a source for the spread of pathogens among student athletes, and that these organisms seem to accumulate over time posing a greater risk if proper turf cleaning is not regularly performed.
In a piece titled “Are Synthetic Turf Fields Full of Dangerous Bacterial Pathogens Like Staph? You Bet They Are,” on Sports Turf Northwest, 6 November 2015, at http://www.sportsturfnw.com/weber-state-university-research-study-on-synthetic-turf/ or here, Mike Woelfel (see Item No. 12 below), states that the Weber State study points out some of the differences between the Penn State study and possible reasons as to why the Penn State study failed to acknowledge the dangers or presence of Staph on artificial turf fields. According to him these differences include the following:
Who Funded the Studies?PennState study was conducted at Penn State Sports Surface Research Center (SSRC), a joint venture between PennState and a synthetic turf manufacturer. The WeberState study was funded by WeberState and Weber State Microbial Department.
Sample Size of Infill Material Being Tested - PennState’s sample size was .075 grams, whereas the WeberState study sample size was 10 grams (more than 10 times the PennState sample size).
Collection Time Frame of Samples - PennState seems to have collected the samples between June 1 and June 15 (year?). The WeberState samples were collected once a week for 14 weeks.
Location of Samples - PennState samples were taken from “High Use” and “Low Use” areas. WeberState samples were collected from Sideline, 50 Yard Line, and end of field.
Time of Study - PennState study took place at the height of Summer (when field temperatures were presumably at the peak). The WeberState study took lace at the height of the actual football season when the fields were in use.
Technical Issues of reasons why the Penn St study did not find Pathogens (Staph) - PennState shortened agitation times for the samples (shortened time means less chance for full discovery of pathogens) which may explain why the study did not the Staph bacteria.
Results as highlighted form the studies - PennState: “Staphylococcus aureus bacterium were not found on any of the playing surfaces.” Weber State: “These results indicate that infill material can serve as a potential source for the spread of bacterial pathogens among athletes and that these organisms seem to accumulate over time posing a greater exposure risk if proper cleaning is not routinely performed.”
[No. 13] Petaluma, California: Staph infection blamed on scrape received on artificial turf field. According to a news report in Argus-Courier (29 March 2015), Frank Gawronski, a student at Casa Grande High School was sophomore when he “suffered through months of recovery from a staph infection after scraping his elbow on the artificial turf at a football camp at UC Berkeley last summer.” According to Dr. Ty Affleck of Santa Rosa Sports and Family Medicine, “there is a potential for the spread of bacteria through artificial surfaces, although it is more commonly spread in the locker room. Affleck said that the surface should be treated similar to any wrestling mat and routinely bleached or wiped down with any antimicrobial scrub.” “Affleck said friction from athlete movement has the potential to raise field temperatures.” That is bit of a stretch considering the plastic carpet retains heat, as does the crumb rubber infill. According to the report, “[s]ince the field opened, the biggest concern athletes face are high surface temperatures on the field in warmer months. Most artificial surfaces are filled with crumbs from recycled tires. Unlike grass that can regulate temperature, rubber crumbs will absorb heat.”Source: Joshua Gutierrez, “Artificial turf: bad for your health?” in Argus-Courier, 29 March 2015, athttp://www.petaluma360.com/news/3675832-181/artificial-turf-bad-for-your
I want to share my opinion about two previous published pieces, Jill Riera (“Concerns on artificial turf,” Feb. 13 ) [see http://www.synturf.org/justwords.html (Item No. 41)] and the response by Darren Gill, FieldTurf (“Response to artificial turf issue in Ho-Ho-Kus).”
I sell maintenance equipment that eradicates Staph (Staphylococcus aureus) and MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) on artificial turf. I am not here to promote my business, but want to share my opinions, as to the dangers blood borne pathogens and biohazards pose to athletes young and old, as they participate in sports on artificial turf and how turf manufacturers use scientific studies to misdirect the public's opinion on the safety of artificial turf.
When Riera wrote her piece I contacted her via email. She first asked me how I even knew about her article (I live in Oregon), I said Google Alerts. I told her the editorial she wrote resonated loud and far with many people. She didn't believe me until the next day when she received an email from Darren Gill, VP, Global Marketing, FieldTurf, who promptly informed Jill, "I feel that you are missing some key scientific data that would help you understand why artificial turf is safe." Jill never mentioned FieldTurf in her editorial but coincidently FieldTurf has a proposal pending at Jill's kids' school for a new artificial turf. I have written extensively on my concerns about field safety, in conjunction with many national press releases and no one has ever contacted me from FieldTurf to change my opinion. I would assume if FieldTurf is paying attention to an editorial piece from a concerned mother than they definitely know who I am. I have repeatedly reached out to local FieldTurf representative Steve Coury. Not a single response.
I agree with FieldTurf on the first part of their main argument that 1. "artificial turf is not a living/breathing organism like natural grass. Hence the name artificial. 2. Natural grass naturally harbors bacteria-artificial turf does not.” FieldTurf's interpretation of the word “harbors” is at the core of the issue. To them harbor means “turf systems do not harbor significant populations of staph bacteria to warrant concern.” [Dr. Andrew McNitt, Associate Professor of Soil Science at Penn State University, A Survey of Microbial Populations in Infilled Synthetic Turf Fields, June 2009].
So yes, artificial turf doesn't breed bacteria, but it only takes one contact with bacteria, such as Staph. “Staph can survive for long periods on artificial turf, 22-40 days.” [Neely &Maley, Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2000].
What turf manufacturers avoid saying is that every sport played on artificial turf is a contact sport; contact sports create cuts and abrasions which are openings in the skin. Artificial turf has an increased instance of creating cuts and abrasions then natural grass due to the “turf burns” that players experience. [N. Seppa, “There’s the Rub: Football Abrasions Can Lead to Nasty Infections,” in Science News 167: 85-86 (2005)].
A cut or abrasion is an opening for Staph or MRSA to enter the body. Shaved legs constitute an abrasion. Staph also needs person to person contact or a shared item, artificial turf is a shared item, for an infection to take place. These fields, both indoor and outdoor, are in use 6-7 days per week. Every demographic of people, from young mothers and their babies to senior citizens utilize these fields. 25-30 percent of the population is colonized with Staph. [Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology]. 25-30 percent of athletes that come in contact with artificial turf could spread Staph. There is no government agency that has oversight for safety or health concerns for artificial turf. There is no usage monitoring of the fields. A recreational league player who has a blood borne pathogen (HIV, Hepatitis, etc.) could bleed all over the field and no biohazard rules exist to address cleanup.
When I first started my business I visited many artificial turf fields. On my first field visit I found a used band aid and on each subsequent visit to a new field I found more used band aids. Other special finds included, metal, vomit and unknown substances. I took pictures of these items and put them on my website to illustrate the daily hazards lurking everywhere. I was accused by a “scientist” from New Zealand of planting these items. After a little research I determined the "scientist" was a representative of a turf manufacturer trying to discredit my discoveries and shape public opinion, as to the overall safety of artificial turf.
From the CDC in Atlanta – “MRSA (and Staph) is transmitted most frequently by direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else's infection (e.g., towels, used bandages).
MRSA skin infections can occur anywhere. However, some settings have factors that make it easier for MRSA to be transmitted. These factors, referred to as the 5 C’s, are as follows: Crowding, frequent skin-to-skin Contact, Compromised skin (i.e., cuts or abrasions), Contaminated items and surfaces, and lack of Cleanliness.” [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “MRSA and the Workplace,” National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health]. Artificial turf has all 5 C’s and you only need one of the five to get a Staph or MRSA infection. This fact alone propelled me to pursue the business I am in to protect athletes and educate the masses.
Artificial turf is big business. There is no regulation for this industry. It will take individuals like Riera, who is only concerned for her children’s safety, to make school districts weigh all the “scientific” studies.
[No. 11] Toledo, Ohio: UT to study life span of bacteria in artificial turf fields. According to a news item in The Toledo Blade (December 27, 2010), the NFL Charities has given a grant to the University of Toledo “to study how long a certain nasty bacterium might live in artificial turf systems, the kind that use recycled material to mimic natural grass and soft dirt cushions beneath.” The grant is one of the 16 sports-medicine grants handed out by the NFL Charities, amounting for a total of $1.6 million in Charities Medical Research Grants handed out in 2010. According to UT associate professor Von Sigler, an environmental biologist and the lead researcher, “Artificial-turf fields present a potential risk of infection among football players and other participants in contact sports …The fields can promote the spread of the bacterium because football players are on the ground a lot, and ‘strawberries,’ or abrasions, from contact with turf can increase the risk of an infection.” Accordingly, “A better understanding of the ecology of MRSA in the field is key for managing the infectious risk to players and determining proper field-maintenance procedures.” Source: Christopher D. Kirkpatrick, “NFL grant goes to UT for study of bacterium: Drug-resistant strain in artificial turf is topic,” in The Toledo Blade, December 27, 2010, available at http://toledoblade.com/article/20101227/NEWS16/12270317 .
Ted Reckas/LB Indy
[No. 10] Laguna Beach, California: Who is watching the adults? SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. December 20, 2010. A junior at the Laguna BeachHigh School, Ricki De La Torre plays lineman for the Breakers, the school’s varsity football team. At the start of October he pulled his groin in practice, he was al the same cleared to play on October 8, 2010. That is when he received a hit on his right pelvic bone and went down. According to his mother, Denise De La Torre, the trainer “said her son’s pelvis was bruised, but fine. So, Ricki went back in but with such pain that he walked off the field and sat out the rest of the game.”[i]
A few weeks later, Ricki was diagnosed “with a staph infection in his muscle and possibly his bone.”[ii] “On Oct. 27 he was hospitalized and treated by pediatric, orthopedic and infectious disease teams and is still being treated as an outpatient ….”[iii] “De La Torre, who is treasurer of the Football Boosters Club and an avid supporter of the football program … asked the [Laguna Beach school board] at its meeting Tuesday [November 16] to hire a consultant to assess the school’s football program for areas of improvement, and wants to change the school’s accident insurance plan, which she doesn’t think provides sufficient coverage.”[iv]
Denise De La Torre “wonders if the artificial turf on the field was the source of her son’s staph.”[v]
Staphylococcus (staph) refers to a group of bacteria that can infect the human body, in varying ways, places and degrees. What they cause can be as mild as not requiring any treatment to those that can kill – and have killed. Most infections caused by a kind of staph called Staphylococcus aureus. This variety of bacteria can also resistant to antibiotics; the famous of which is methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): namely, a staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin, a penicillin-related antibiotic.
The outbreak of staph infections, including MRSA, is not uncommon among athletes and the various environments they frequent. The connection between staph infection and artificial turf fields is that the abrasion (turf burn, rug burn) that an athletes gets from playing on artificial turf then becomes a gateway for the staph bacteria to enter the body. That staph bacteria s could be anywhere, on the filed, on another person, the equipment, locker room and even the skin of the athlete himself or herself. For details see the various posts on this website at “The Staph & Turf Brief - What’s the Connection?,” November 12, 2007 at http://www.synturf.org/staphturfbrief.html and http://www.synturf.org/staphnews.html .
According to one source, the artificial turf at LBHS’ Guyer Field was installed in the 2003-04.[vi] According to another source, the Guyer Field was put in 2005.[vii] The Sportexe synthetic turf, made of slit-film polyethylene and rubber pellets,[viii] was installed by Boone Action Turf, of Orange, California.[ix]
In late September to first days of October 2010, “an undetermined number of [Laguna BeachHigh School] football players developed staph infections in abrasions on their arms.”[x] Ethan Quirarte, a senior on the varsity football team, suffered a concussion on the field of play on September 11. While at the hospital, “he noticed a turf burn and his mother said he was diligent about cleaning the abrasion because he was aware other players on the team had already been diagnosed with staph infections.”[xi] He was diagnosed with MRSA on September 30 and removed from active play. After receiving oral and intravenous antibiotics, he fully recovered and he returned to play on Wednesday, Oct. 7.”[xii] Not all athletes afflicted with MRSA are that lucky.[xiii]
By October 5, the outbreak of staph infections had grown bad enough that the school’s
football coach notified the parents of football players of the outbreak; parents of soccer players were also notified. “Lockers and football equipment were sanitized on Oct. 6 and the field was treated Tuesday Oct. 13 with an antimicrobial agent and reopened that evening at 6 p.m.”[xiv]
Denise De La Torre kept digging around the question about the connection between her son’s MRSA and playing on artificial turf. More specifically, she and others questioned the durability of antimicrobial treatment for artificial turf fields. “In a letter addressed to another concerned parent, Norma Shelton, Asst. Supt. of Business Services at LBUSD, stated that the LBHS field was sanitized in the summer of 2009 and the treatment lasts two years.”[xv] However, according to “Milo George of Professional Sports Field Services LLC in Ohio, a manufacturer that distributes a similar treatment to the NFL, said there is no treatment that keeps artificial fields safe for that duration of time.”[xvi] According to him, even with the two-year treatment, “fields still need to be cleaned regularly to rid them of bacteria on the surface.”[xvii] According to Denis De La Torre, Professional Sports Field Services, LLC believes that “there is not a product on the market that will last more than about three months.”[xviii]
The antimicrobial treatment of the Guyer Field may not have provided an adequate protection for the athletes. That is an issue that the school district ought to address to the manufacturer of the product and the spraying company – not only with respect to this high school but the entire district. Ideally, the California public health officials ought to look into this matter for the whole State. Still, the issue of treatment of the field is a part a seemingly inadequate standard of care for the welfare of the athletes.
According to De La Torre, by mid-November, there had been no less than 25 injuries on the football field and “many of these young football players being put back into play without adequate assessment of their injuries, which could result in more serious conditions, even paralysis or death.”[xix] In the case of Ricki, during the October 8 game, after sustaining injury “he was taped up and pout back in again … [H]e had to walk off the filed he was in so much pain.”[xx] According to Denise De LA Torre, “another child was hospitalized last month [October] with a punctured spleen, after sustaining an injury on the field and being diagnosed by the school's athletic trainer as having ‘bruised ribs.’ He was put into play three more times after the injury occurred. ‘This child's parent made the decision to take him to the hospital, where they discovered that he was actually bleeding out and in complete shock with a punctured spleen,’ she said. ‘He subsequently contracted a secondary infection, which put him in the intensive care unit for five days.’”[xxi] According to her, “In response to a prior incident where a football player was knocked unconscious and put back into play.”[xxii]
“Allegations of misdiagnosed injuries, bacteria on the field contrast with parents who defend program as safe and well-managed. Many won’t speak publicly.”[xxiii] According to one parent, who wished to remain anonymous, when her son took a hit in the game the volunteer orthopedic surgeon diagnosed him with potential internal bleeding and recommended that the child seek immediate. Because the diagnosis was not communicated to the coach, “I was unable to pull my son away to take him to the hospital right away.”[xxiv]
According to De La Torre, there are “other parents who are equally as concerned, but who are afraid to come forward because they don’t want to see the football program shut down.”[xxv]
[No. 09] San Francisco, Calif.: MRSA found in beach sand. According to a news story by Associated Press (September 13, 2009),“Dangerous staph bacteria have been found in sand and water for the first time at five public beaches along the coast of Washington, and scientists think the state is not the only one with the problem. The germ MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was once rarely seen outside of hospitals but increasingly is spreading elsewhere. The germ, which causes skin infections as well as pneumonia, is spread through human contact.” Associated Press, “Dangerous germs found on beaches,” in The Sunday Boston Globe, September 13, 2009, available at http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2009/09/13/dangerous_germs_found_on_beaches/ . The infill (topping) of the artificial turf field is commonly a mixture of sand and crumb rubber.
[No. 08] San Francisco, Calif.: Former Giants first baseman has learned that artificial turf can be an especially hospitable surface for staph bacteria. The following is from San Francisco Chronicle (November 2, 2008) as J.T. Snow, the former Giants first baseman -- “Among the things he's learned is that artificial turf can be an especially hospitable surface for staph bacteria. “I was told that (staph) can live there for a while,” he said. “And a lot of high schools in California are putting in that Sport Turf because it’s cheaper than grass. So you have to wonder if more kids are going to end up with the infections. It's crazy.” Source: Gwen Knapp, “Former Giant lost father to infection,” in San Francisco Chronicle, November 2, 2008, available at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/01/SPFQ13SIKD.DTL .
[No. 07] Athletic Turf News: It appears more and more likely bacteria can be present in turf. On October 28, 2008, the editor-in-chief of Athletic Turf News, Ron Hall, published a piece in which he urged the professionals involved in the sale, marketing and management of artificial turf fields to come clean as to the potential for harm to athletes if precautions are not taken to minimize the risk of contracting staph infections by athletes playing on artificial turf fields. Naturally, the adoption and execution of an effective antibacterial program by managers and athletic departments adds to the maintenance or operations cost of turf fields, something that salesmen may be reluctant to raise with buyers for the fear of scuttling a sale.
The following are excerpts from Hall’s editorial on the subject:
Not so well documented, at least not to the same extent, is the likelihood of
contracting a staph infection on synthetic turf, although it appears more and
more likely bacteria can be present there. There is evidence that this is the
case, although turf managers would welcome clearer evidence yet.
The explosion in the installation of synthetic turf sports fields this past
decade (between 800-1,000 will be built this coming year), has raised obvious
concerns about the presence of disease-causing bacteria on the surface of or
within the infill of synthetic fields. This concern has thrust sports turf
managers uncomfortably into the middle of the staph picture.
This is unfamiliar territory for professionals trained and more proficient at
maintaining turfgrass and repairing clay infields.
Not only must sports field managers learn how to maintain synthetic turf that
often receive 5-10 times more activity than turfgrass fields, they're also
charged with making the decision or asked their opinion of whether or not to
treat synthetic fields with a product to kill bacteria.
Providing safe conditions for the athletes that use their facilities is their
number one responsibility, after all.
This has been a tough call for them in light of budget pressures and exaggerated
expectations of maintenance cost savings associated with synthetic turf fields.
Adding to the difficulty of deciding whether or not to treat is uncertainty
about the relative risk of contracting a staph infection (including the more
serious MSRA) on synthetic fields.
Even so, increasing numbers of professional teams and universities, in
particular, have decided that the risk, whatever it is, is too great to ignore.
In almost all cases, they treat all the surfaces that athletes come in contact
with — both inside and outside as staph can be carried from one surface to
These high-profile and well-funded programs generally contract a professional
service that applies a product specifically formulated to kill bacteria.
Are these treatments warranted? Are they necessary? Are they worth the cost?
These sports entities obviously think they are, and they figure the cost of
treatment into the very real ongoing costs of maintaining synthetic turf.
But, let's go back to the case of the Cleveland Browns who suffered a rash of
serious infections. While several of them have reportedly been traced back to
hospitals following surgical procedures, others have not, and are presumed to
have been contracted elsewhere, perhaps the team's training camp?
The question sports field managers must ask themselves, in light of the
experience of the [Cleveland] Browns and, several years early, the NFL St. Louis Rams that had similar problems with staph, is whether they should be concerned with
bacterial infections on synthetic turf?
In light of the seriousness of the problem, the answer is yes.
Synthetic turf playing surfaces require regular maintenance, which includes
cleaning and now treatment to eliminate the likelihood of infections.
Sports field managers must convince the people that they report to that there
are equipment needs and real costs involved with maintaining synthetic turf
fields, including the added cost of protecting against bacterial infections.
The number one responsibility of sports field managers, after all, is the safety
[No. 06] The Silent Fall – Reemergence of MRSA. By Guive Mirfendereski, SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. October 3, 2008. With frightening regularity – as predictable as the tuning of the leaves at this time of the year – MRSA is back in the headlines.
On September 28, 2008, Staph infection took the life of Alonso Smith, an 18-year old, a starting linebacker on Liberty High School (Kissimmee, Florida) football team.
On September 23, 2008, MRSA snuffed out Saalen Jones, a 17-year old football player at Martin Luther King High School in Philadelphia. According to his father, Jones “had a turf burn – a common football abrasion – on his stomach,” reported Associated Press. In another report about the silent fall of this youngster, Dr. Mike Cirigliano, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said “I'm told by published reports that there was some abrasion on the skin with what was called a turf burn. And I think that one can then say that he was playing football, he may have contracted it from another player or some athletic equipment or just in the locker room.”
Kyle Audette is lucky to be alive. This linebacker and co-captain of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy came down with MRSA in September 2007. His harrowing ordeal is chronicled in a piece in The Boston Globe (October 3, 2008). The author of the piece, Barbara Matson, does not say of Audette’s infection set in an abrasion suffered on the field. But it is clear from the article that turf-related abrasion may have been suspected as the culprit. “Football players,” wrote Matson, “may be particularly susceptible [to Staph bacteria] because of frequent abrasions caused by artificial turf fields.” According to the story, after his return to the field several months later, Audette “at first wore high socks and arm guards to protect himself, and others, but a razzing from spectators during the game at New York maritime put him back in regulation short socks and gear.”
[No. 05] Baltimore (Maryland): Morgan State Football Coach makes connection between turf field and higher incidence of MRSA among his players. On August 18, 2008, Baltimore Convention Center was host to “Strike Out Infection,” part of national campaign captained by the Boston red Sox manager, Terry Francona, and underwritten by Covidien Ltd, a health-care product company. In a news report by The Baltimore Sun, Donald Hill, the football coach of Morgan State University (Baltimore, Maryland) is quoted at length about his efforts last year to stamp out staph infection among his players.
Hill said, “I’d seen maybe one or two staph infections in all my time in football. But three years ago, we put down a new synthetic turf on our football field, and we began to have three to four cases a week.” In response, Hill disinfected the showers, disinfected the equipment, made sure the uniforms were washed daily and still he could not stop the infections from occurring. “We went from hugging to a nice wave,” Hill said, “Players didn’t want to touch each other. It wasn’t until our trainer, Todd Smith, said he was going to try to disinfect the field that we got it under control.” “Athletes are prime candidates for the infection because they come in contact with artificial surfaces that retain germs, they share exercise equipment, showers and locker rooms, and when on the field or court, they come in contact with other players,” according to the Baltimore Sun. Source: Sandra McKee, “Campaign steps up to bat to stop staph infections,” in The Baltimore Sun, August 19, 2008, available athttp://articles.baltimoresun.com/2008-08-19/sports/0808180269_1_staph-infection-staphylococcus-prevent-the-infection . Old like: http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-sp.infection19aug19,0,7336901.story .
[No. 04] New school year, old concerns over staph infection.On August 18, 2008, Alex DeMaetrick of WJZ (Baltimore, Maryland) reported on measures taken by Morgan State’s football program to eradicate the risk of infection to the players from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Last year, "We did everything from disinfecting the locker rooms, the showers, the training rooms and we still had it. But once we disinfected the synthetic turf, we pretty much got rid of it,” said Donald Hill, Morgan State’s football. According to the report, the Baltimore Oriole Hall of Famer Jim Palmer and Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona have joined forces to “raise awareness about young athletes and their coaches about MRSA infections.” “It almost cost me my right leg and possibly my life, so I'm fortunate to be standing here,” said Francona. "We cover the wounds, we clean the wounds, we protect the wounds.” Source: Alex De Metrick (reporting), “As School & Sports Start, Concerns About MRSA Grow,” by WJZ, August 18, 2008, available at http://wjz.com/sports/staph.mrsa.infection.2.797936.html .
[No. 03] Montgomery County, Maryland. Mother blames turf for child’s MRSA infection. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. March 19, 2008. In the debate that is brewing over plans to install an artificial turf field at Richard Montgomery High School, one mother is drawing on her personal pain to argue against the plan. Meet, Marci Calantonio; her son was infected last football season with the potentially deadly staph infection MRSA. She told WJLA (Channel 7 TV, ABC-affiliate) that MRSA progressed very rapidly around his muscles and went into his pelvic bone.She believes her son got it on the field, where students share sweat, spit and occasionally open sores, WJLA reported. If a player happens to be a carrier of MRSA, then the sweat from his skin gets on the field and stays there, according to Calantonio. For details, see “Turf War Brews Over Fake or Real Grass,” March 18, 2008, available at http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0308/504735.html.
[No. 01]Texas high school football and Staph infections. In the annals of athletic- related Staph infections a few names stand out. The story of one such person, Boone Baker, a high school varsity football player, is one that could have turned easily into a requiem. He survived his infection last year. Yet, his story keeps turning up in accounts of how turf burn could contribute to higher incidence of Staph infection. See for example, a “Field of Nightmares,” in Texas Monthly, vol. 34, issue 5 (Austin: May 2006), reproduced at http://www.synturf.org/seriousquestionsask.html. Now comes a news article by Victor Epstein in which he examines the relationship between turf and Staph infections, beginning with Boone’s story. According to Epstein, “Texas has artificial turf at 18 percent of its high school football stadiums, according to Web site Texasbob.com. It also has an MRSA infection rate among players that is 16 times higher than the estimated national average, according to three studies by the Texas Department of State Health Services.” “At least 276 football players were infected with MRSA from 2003 through 2005, a rate of 517 for each 100,000, according to the Texas studies. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reports a rate for the general population of 32 in 100,000. Football players often become infected at the site of a turf burn and are misdiagnosed, said David Smith, co-author of a study showing that MRSA-related hospitalizations in the U.S. more than doubled from 1999 to 2005.” “’The turf burns themselves are just the kind of minor skin injury that MRSA can exploit,’'' said Elliot Pellman, medical liaison for the National Football League, which also has had infections among its players." “Football also produces more MRSA infections than any other sport, said Marilyn Felkner, the epidemiologist who led the Texas studies. The department wasn't able to obtain enough data to establish a statistical link between artificial turf and MRSA infections, she said.” “Spreading MRSA can be prevented by frequent hand washing, covering scratches and turf burns, disinfecting whirlpools between uses, and not sharing towels or razors, the Texas health department advises.” Source: Victor Epstein, “Texas Football Succumbs to Virulent Staph Infection from Turf,” in Bloomberg News, December 21, 2007, available at http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=alxhrJDn.cdc.