Thursday, January 17, 2008
Footballers v Gays: Who's More At-Risk for Staph?

Posted at the Salon site today is a great tongue-in-cheek article about staph infections and who's more at risk of contracting the disease. Under the humor, there are many grains of truth in the piece:

When it comes to spreading the bacteria, it is not homosexuals we have to worry about. It is that much wider swath of the male population examined in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the journal, the medical researchers were not studying gays, they were studying the St. Louis Rams. That is correct: football players; in particular, linebackers. [...]

The study revealed another problem: All football people are not that clean. "We also observed a lack of regular access to hand hygiene," wrote the authors, "for trainers who provided wound care; skipping of showers by players before the use of communal whirlpools; and sharing of towels -- all factors that might facilitate the transmission of infection in this setting."

Focused on just San Francisco and Boston, the staph study in the Archives of Internal Medicine pales next to the one in the New England Journal of Medicine. It is fair to reason that more American men play football than have sex with one another. Authors of the football study concluded that the perilous USA300 strain "was present in diverse regions of the United States."

In light of Sunday's certain-to-be-exciting conference championship games between the Patriots and Chargers, Giants and Packers, it pains me to say that for the health of our children, neighbors, friends and selves, we must borrow the words from Matt Barber and declare that when it comes to football in America, "Citizens, especially parents, need to stand up and say, 'No More.'"

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