(CARLSBAD, CA) – It began decades ago in hospitals. In the 1990s, it started showing up outside hospital settings. And now, it’s suddenly making national headlines, with healthy people – even athletes – teetering between life and death, all from one superbug. In fact, in 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produced a large-scale report on the culprit – MRSA.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus areus) is caused by staph bacteria. The staph bacteria are generally found on the skin or in the nose. In fact, one-third of the general population carries staph on their skin or in their noses, according to the Mayo Clinic. These people are “colonized,” but not infected. In other words, they are carriers of the germs. The germs are generally harmless, until they enter the body through an open wound. Once inside, MRSA strains of staph are particularly dangerous because they are resistant to most mainstream antibiotics.
Participants in fitness programs are susceptible to staph infections, including MRSA, since bacteria can spread through cuts, abrasions, and skin-to-skin contact. Even sharing towels or athletic equipment can lead to MRSA infections. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett offers the following tips to protect yourself from MRSA at workout facilities:
Wash your hands. The number one means of defending yourself against germs is always handwashing. Wash your hands before and after your workout. Scrub for at least 15 seconds and dry with a disposable towel.
Shower. After each workout session, take a shower as soon as possible. Scrub with soap and water. The longer that germs are given a chance to stay active on your sweat-covered body, the more likely they can enter through a tiny open wound.
Spray down equipment. Most gyms or fitness facilities offer cleaning sprays or sanitizing wipes for your use. Spray handles of cardio equipment before use. Spray dumbbell weights or use a towel between you and the weights.
Buy your own mat. For classes that require bare feet and exposed skin to touch mats, such as yoga, bringing your own mat is always the safest option.
Wash with hot water. When you wash your gym clothes and towels, use a “hot” water setting and dry in a hot dryer. And always wash your clothes and towels after every use!
Don’t share. As a kid, you learned it’s polite to share, but that doesn’t extend to personal hygiene materials. Never share your towels, razors, personal hygiene items, or even athletic clothing with others. MRSA can spread via contaminated objects.
If you get a suspicious-looking sore, visit your doctor immediately and ask to be tested for MRSA. The sore may initially look like a large pimple or bug bite. You’ll know that it’s likely infected if your wound has redness, swelling, warmth, tenderness, and yellowish-white pus.
Once you’ve visited your doctor, if you are prescribed an antibiotic, be sure to take all of the doses, even after your infection appears to be improving. The final doses of your antibiotic kill the toughest remnants of the bacteria.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.