We love when kids play sports. They are getting physical fitness, and they are learning important lessons about working with other people, perseverance and mental toughness.
But coming in contact with so many other people on the field can help spread infectious disease, says a report released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report found that about 10 to 15 percent of injuries that keep college athletes off the field are infectious diseases.
Some of the common concerns for high school football and wrestling is Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA), Group A Streptococcus; herpes simplex virus; tinea capitis (ringworm); tinea pedis (athlete’s foot); scabies and lice.
Coaches should also worry about varicella zoster virus (chicken pox), measles and mumps — all which can be prevented by vaccinations.
The report recommends that kids do these things:
- Shower after practice.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Avoid sharing water bottles, mouth guards, towels and other personal items.
- Be current in vaccinations.
- Be screened for skin conditions and other infections at the physical.
Coaches can do these things:
- Teach student athletes proper personal hygiene, including proper laundering of uniforms and avoiding sharing of drinks or personal products, such as razors.
- Develop a plan for cleaning and maintenance of sporting environment using guidelines such as those published by the American College of Sports Medicine.
- Pay special attention to proper management of blood and other bodily fluids, just as hospitals have concentrated on preventing hospital-associated infections.
- Routinely screen athletes during practices and before and after competitions.
“The best thing coaches can do is identify the problem early, even if it is something as benign-looking as a cold sore, so they can prevent its spread,” Said Dr. Stephen G. Rice, a member of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, in a press release. “We want the students not only to participate in sports, but to have a good experience.”