NFL Physicians Society warns teams to be on lookout for staph

The two cases of staph infection discovered in the Tampa Bay Buccaneeers' locker room put up a red flag across the NFL. The league hadn't dealt with such illness for about five years, since the Cleveland Browns faced it in 2008.

USA Today reported Friday that the NFL Physicians Society has told all 32 teams to remain vigilant in looking for the possibility of staph infections, also known as MRSA infections.

The reminder came roughly two weeks after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers admitted guard Carl Nicks and place-kicker Lawrence Tynes both are fighting MRSA, a staph infection that is resistant to some antibiotics.

Ellen Rice, executive administrative assistant for the NFL Physicians' Society, emailed the memo to team physicians Friday along with four newsletters produced for the league in recent years by the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network (DICON).

"Given the recent MRSA infection of 2 NFL players (and the resulting public attention)," Rice wrote, "we have attached the DICON newsletters on MRSA, at the request of the league, as a reminder to team medical staffs for the need to remain vigilant for this now ubiquitous but still serious problem."

Beyond proper hygiene, there is no dependable method for getting rid of staph. Teams can disinfect their locker rooms, but the environments of NFL teams, with large bathrooms and synthetic turfs, put pro football players at risk to attract staph infections.

An NFL physicians survey determined there were 33 MRSA staph infections league-wide from 2006 to '08 – 11 a season among the 32 teams. The St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers are among the teams with documented cases.

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor