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Posts Tagged ‘staph’

Sanitization is Key, During and After Gym Work Out

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

(CBS) You go to the gym to get in shape. But if you aren’t careful, that trip to the fitness club could be hazardous to your health.

“Early Show” Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen notes that more than 45 million Americans belong to health clubs.

She said, “That adds up to a lot of dirt and sweat, and as we found out — a lot of germs. They say no pain no gain, but when you go to your local gym you want to get fit not infected.”

And all those weights, bikes and barbells can be loaded with germs.

Shelby Hoff, of Naperville, Ill., knows. She picked up methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at her local gym.

Hoff told CBS News, “I never thought that working out could cause a life-threatening infection. … At one my point my arm got so big, my skin burst and shed like a snake.”

So could a trip to the gym put you at risk? Koeppen and her team wanted to find out what was lurking on gym equipment — so we swabbed surfaces at four major gym chains in New York City.

They sent their samples to Sanipure, a Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture certified lab.

Ron Schnitzer, the lab director, said of the samples, “We had astronomical total bacteria counts in the many millions on just about every surface examined.”

Schnitzer says the tests also found E. coli. The highest numbers came from a mat at one gym and a shower at another.

Schnitzer says at every location, Koeppen’s team found pseudomonas, which can cause a nasty rash. The highest concentration was in a shower.

But Schnitzer says perhaps the most disturbing finding was the staph aureus detected on a locker room bench. He says that’s an indicator some people could be at risk for contracting MRSA.

Schnitzer said, “We don’t want to see staph aureus because that’s an infection.”

The National Athletic Trainers Association just announced new guidelines for preventing skin diseases at gyms, including using new towels for each wipe down and cleaning equipment before and after every use.

And gyms across the country are moving away from the spray bottle with a rag. At a gym in Pittsburgh members are now offered paper towels, and encouraged to use hand sanitizer.

Hoff has healed but still suffers from occasional numbness in her hand.

She says, “There are things out there that you can’t see that can harm you and I want people to be able to prevent anything like that from happening to them.”

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association told “The Early Show” maintaining a clean facility and protecting members is a top priority, adding, “It is important for clubs to educate their members about simple ways to increase cleanliness.”

To guard against germs, Koeppen added gym patrons should also wash their hands before and after working out with anti-bacterial soap, and also shower with anti-bacterial soap. Additionally, she said people should not only wash their gym clothes, but also their gym bag.

For more information on MRSA, go to MRSA Survivors.org.

Source (article): CBS

Be Wary of Gym Germs

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

When you go to the gym, do you wash your hands before and after using the equipment? Bring your own regularly cleaned mat for floor exercises? Shower with antibacterial soap and put on clean clothes immediately after your workout? Use only your own towels, razors, bar soap, water bottles?

If you answered “no” to any of the above, you could wind up with one of the many skin infections that can spread like wildfire in athletic settings. In June, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, known as N.A.T.A., issued a position paper on the causes, prevention and treatment of skin diseases in athletes that could just as well apply to anyone who works out in a communal setting, be it a school, commercial gym or Y.

The authors pointed out that “skin infections in athletes are extremely common” and account for more than half the outbreaks of infectious diseases that occur among participants in competitive sports. And if you think skin problems are minor, consider what happened to Kyle Frey, a 21-year-old junior and competitive wrestler at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Mr. Frey noticed a pimple on his arm last winter but thought little of it. He competed in a match on a Saturday, but by the next morning the pimple had grown to the size of his biceps and had become very painful.

His athletic trainer sent him straight to the emergency room, where the lesion was lanced and cultured. Two days later, he learned he had MRSA, the potentially deadly staphylococcus infection that is resistant to most antibiotics.

Mr. Frey spent five days in the hospital, where the lesion was surgically cleaned and stitched and treated with antibiotics that cleared the infection. He said in an interview that he does not know how he acquired MRSA: “The wrestling mat might have been contaminated, or I wrestled with someone who had the infection.”

If it could happen to Mr. Frey, who said he has always been health-conscious in the gym and careful about not sharing his belongings, it could happen to you.

The Risks

Recreational athletes as well as participants in organized sports are prone to fungal, viral and bacterial skin infections. Sweat, abrasion and direct or indirect contact with the lesions and secretions of others combine to make every athlete’s skin vulnerable to a host of problems. While MRSA may be the most serious skin infection, athlete’s foot, jock itch, boils, impetigo, herpes simplex and ringworm, among others, are not exactly fun or attractive.

Athletes who are infected should be kept from competing in matches for a week or more until treatment renders them noninfectious. The authors of the trainers’ study warned against simply covering infections like herpes and active bacterial lesions in order to return to competition.

Likewise, people like you and me who work out at a facility or swim in a public pool should stay away until cleared by a doctor who is well versed in skin diseases.

Steven M. Zinder, a trainer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chief author of the new paper, said in an interview that these recommendations are not esoteric.

“It’s what we all learned — or should have learned — in sixth-grade health class,” he said. “It’s all common sense. You need to keep yourself and your equipment clean. You never know who last used the equipment in a gym. It can be a great breeding ground for these bugs, some of which are pretty nasty.”

The report, published in the August issue of The Journal of Athletic Training, stated, “Athletes must shower after every practice and game with an antibacterial soap and water over the entire body.”

Dr. Zinder noted that after a workout, women tend not to shower at the facility, while men, who are more likely to shower, often fail to cleanse their entire bodies, including their feet. Well-equipped facilities should provide antibacterial liquid soap.

“You should be showering at the gym and putting on clean clothes that are kept separate from the dirty ones,” he said. In fact, he added, it’s best to have two bags, one only for clean clothes, and to wash the dirty-clothes bag now and then.

Assume Exposure

Jack Foley, athletic trainer and director of sports medicine at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., and co-author of the report, said athletes should always assume they are exposed to skin infections.

At any given time, he said in an interview, one person in three in the United States suffers from a skin disease that can be spread to others, even while in the incubation stage.

The report noted that there had been “an alarming increase in the prevalence of MRSA” in the noses of both healthy children and adults. Thus, sneezing into one’s hand or blowing one’s nose without washing with an antibacterial cleanser afterward may spread these dangerous bacteria to others.

While hand hygiene is most important over all , avoiding fungal infections requires a daily change of athletic socks and underwear; carefully drying the armpits and groin and between toes (perhaps blow-drying the feet on low heat); and using foot powder. Shower shoes can help prevent infection as long as they don’t keep you from soaping your feet.

A viral infection called molluscum contagiosum may not be on the popular tongue, but it is commonly seen in young children and , spread through skin-to-skin contact, is not uncommon among athletes, including swimmers, cross-country runners and wrestlers, the report stated.

Prevention of this highly contagious infection requires “meticulous hygiene” after contact with secretions from other athletes through benches, towels and mats.

If you plan to work out in a gym or use a locker room, Mr. Foley suggested that before choosing a facility, you quiz the management about the cleaning agents used (they should be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency) and daily cleaning schedule for all surfaces and equipment. If exercise mats are not cleaned between classes, he suggested bringing your own. Antibacterial wipes or spray bottles should be provided and used by everyone to clean equipment after a workout.

Source (article): NYTIMES

Source (pictures): TRAINING PEAKS, SCARFPHOTO, ABCNEWS

Germs…a Gym’s Best Friend

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Americans hit the gym in search of bigger arms, massive chests and smaller waists, but many don’t know that gyms are hotbeds for germs.

ABC News conducted a test to find out just how many germs people could encounter when working out.

Dr. Philip Tierno, a microbiologist, said that the large number of people, exposed skin, and sweat present at gyms could be perfect for spreading infections.

“You’re not using that one machine exclusively for yourself,” Tierno said. “You’re leaving that machine, and someone else follows you and your germs that you leave behind. Eighty percent of all infectious disease is transmitted by contact.”

Tierno said that if a sick person used a machine, the person who used it next and then touched their eyes or mouth could get sick.

ABC News staffers took swabs to almost every piece of gym equipment they used and brought the samples to Tierno’s lab at New York University Hospital.

Tierno found the germs staph aureus, klebsiella, enterobacter and E. coli, which can cause various ailments.

Risky Machines

Tierno said the highest risk areas at the gym were machines used by “multiple people in quick sequence, such as dumbbells, seats where people may bike, or where people may sit down to lift weights.”

For example, on a lateral pull-down machine, ABC News found bacillus, which comes from the soil.

It most likely came from someone’s shoes. On an exercise bike, ABC News found sarcinia, candida specie, staphylococcus epi and diptheroids.

The worst place of all was the shower floor.

“Unfortunately, germs do survive in the shower, on walls, and on the floor,” Tierno said. “I found it in hordes — unbelievable quantities. We use the word ‘innumerable.’ Innumerable.”

According to Tierno, E. coli and many of the other germs found by ABC News won’t necessarily make you sick.

“You wear your little slippers, and you’re OK,” Tierno said. “But just as easily as those nonpathogenic germs touch those surfaces, we can have more pathogenic forms touch them. That’s the point.”

Source (article): ABCNEWS

Source (picture): HEALTH-NEWS-BLOG

Beaches May Harbor Staph Bacteria

Monday, February 16th, 2009

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Swimmers at crowded public beaches are likely to bring home more than a bit of sand in their bathing suits, according to U.S. researchers, who said as many as one in three swimmers may be exposed to contagious staph bacteria.

They said people who swim in subtropical marine waters have a 37 percent higher risk of being exposed to staph bacteria, including an antibiotic resistant staph known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

“We think that people are the instruments for bringing their organisms into the water and leaving it behind,” Dr. Lisa Plano of the University of Miami told reporters at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago on Friday.

“I don’t know if that is the only source. The bacteria may still be in the sand left over from other people, but we haven’t studied that. These are things we plan to do in the future.”

People who have open wounds or are immune compromised have the greatest risk of infection, she said.

In one experiment with more than 1,000 bathers on a popular Florida beach, people spent 15 minutes dunking themselves in the sea, then bringing sea water back with them in a jug.

They then tested the water for staph and MRSA and found 37 percent of the samples contained staph, and 3 percent of those contained MRSA.

“I don’t think you should fear going to the beach,” Plano said, particularly if they take a few simple precautions.

She recommends people shower before going to the beach, to keep from depositing their own germs into the water. And she suggests they shower once they leave, to wash off any pathogens.

“If you don’t go into the water with a gaping wound, you should be fine,” Plano said.

SOURCE: REUTERS.COM

Embrace Good Hygiene

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Stanisław Jerzy Lec, a Polish poet, once said “All is in the hands of man. Therefore, wash them often.” Now, more than ever, does that statement hold true. With germs and infections spreading so easily these days, it’s important to take preventative measures to keep oneself safe.

Since the death of Alonzo Smith in the past week, several more cases of MRSA have popped up across Central Florida, including another Liberty High School student. The school, which had been declared clean by Osceola County health officials, has local parents worried and uncertain what to expect. Other cases that have appeared include one student at Stanton Weirsdale Elementary in Marion County, and four employees of Harris Corporation in Brevard County.

MRSA is contracted through skin/skin contact, as well as encounters with cuts and sores. There are several things that one can do to help prevent the spread of this disease.

  • Keep hands clean by thoroughly washing regularly with an anti-bacterial soap like GymSoap®.
  • Keep cuts and sores clean and bandaged until they have properly healed.
  • Avoid contact with with other people’s wounds or bandages.
  • Do not pop pimples or boils, this should only be done by a doctor.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors, sponges or loofahs.