Practical management: community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA): the latest sports epidemic

Clin J Sport Med. 2007 Sep;17(5):393-7. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31814be92b.


Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) has gained international recognition as a superbug that causes serious infectious outbreaks in high-risk populations such as athletes. Clusters of cases in various athletic teams, particularly contact sports, have been reported since 1993 in the United States and more recently in Canada. CA-MRSA infections are not limited to North America, and all athletes are considered high risk. Skin-to-skin contact appears to be the primary mode of transmission. While typical infections are local skin and soft-tissue abscesses, CA-MRSA infections can spread systemically and lead to significant morbidity and mortality if not promptly identified and treated. The gold standard of treatment for all abscesses is incision and drainage with wound culture for bacterial identification and antibiotic sensitivity testing. A limited number of antibiotics are currently useful in the treatment of CA-MRSA and are reviewed. Geographical variation in patterns of antibiotic resistance further complicates the treatment. Meticulous, consistent use of infection prevention strategies is critical to control outbreaks in the athletic population. Good hygiene, prompt identification of infection, limited exposure to infected persons and contaminated objects, and proper treatment combined with close follow-up of infected athletes will help contain CA-MRSA outbreaks. Future research is needed to explore person-to-person and fomite transmission risks, to define the significance of nasal carriage and skin colonization in relation to CA-MRSA infections, and to further investigate antibiotic resistance patterns. Universal education is needed for all athletes and personnel who provide care in the athletic setting to help control this widespread epidemic.

MeSH terms

  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / transmission
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Methicillin Resistance*
  • Sports Medicine*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / diagnosis*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / transmission
  • Staphylococcus aureus*
  • United States / epidemiology