- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Two independent infectious disease experts who inspected seven NFL facilities reported Thursday that the incidence of MRSA infections in the league is low and steadily declining.

The report also said NFL teams are doing an excellent job preventing and treating MRSA staph infections.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, in conjunction with the players union, arranged for the inspections of the facilities. The inspections were conducted between December 2008 and February 2009 by Dr. Donald Poretz, the immediate past president of the Infectious Disease Society of America and a clinical professor of internal medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine and at Virginia Commonwealth. Poretz was assisted by Dr. Daniel Sexton, professor of medicine at Duke and director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network.

Poretz visited the facilities and interviewed the medical staffs of the Ravens, Browns, Dolphins, Saints, Jets, Eagles and Redskins.

“The site visits revealed that each of the seven teams that were surveyed has a comprehensive, realistic and appropriate level of concern about the problem of MRSA infections in their players,” Portez reported. “And more importantly, each of these teams has developed an appropriate, reasonable and effective strategy for recognizing and controlling the spread of MRSA if a random case of infection arises in an individual player.

“Our conversations with medical and training staff suggest that the incidence of MRSA infections in the NFL is low and … the overall number of cases appears to be steadily declining.”

An NFL physicians survey of the 32 clubs determined there were 33 MRSA infections leaguewide from 2006-08 versus 60 MRSA infections from 2003-05, a nearly 50 percent decline.

“Post-operative MRSA infections cannot be attributed to deficiencies in control and prevention activities in team training facilities,” Poretz added.

The Browns had at least six players stricken with some sort of staph infection in recent years, including star tight end Kellen Winslow, now with Tampa Bay, and wide receiver Braylon Edwards.

The report, which includes recommendations and best practices for preventing and managing MRSA infections, is being distributed to all NFL clubs and their medical staffs.

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