Staphylococcus aureus recovery from environmental and human locations in 2 collegiate athletic teams

J Athl Train. 2010 May-Jun;45(3):222-9. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-45.3.222.


Context: Staphylococcus aureus is spread via direct contact with persons and indirect contact via environmental surfaces such as weight benches. Athletes participating in direct-contact sports have an increased risk of acquiring S aureus infections.

Objective: To determine (1) potential environmental reservoirs of S aureus in football and wrestling locker rooms and weight rooms, (2) environmental bacterial status after employing more stringent cleaning methods, (3) differences in colonization rates between athletes and nonathletes, (4) exposed body locations where Staphylococcus was recovered more frequently, and (5) personal hygiene practices of athletes and nonathletes.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Locker room and strengthening and conditioning facilities at a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II university.

Patients or other participants: Collegiate football players and wrestlers, with nonathlete campus residents serving as the control group.

Intervention(s): Infection control methods, education of the custodial staff, and education of the athletes regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for infection prevention.

Main outcome measure(s): Cultures were taken from the participants' noses, fingertips, knuckles, forearms, and shoes and from the environment.

Results: Before the intervention, from the 108 environmental samples taken from the football locker room and weight room, 26 (24%) contained methicillin-susceptible S aureus (MSSA) and 33 (31%) contained methicillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA). From the 39 environmental samples taken from the wrestling locker room and pit areas, 1 (3%) contained MSSA and 4 (10%) contained MRSA. The MRSA rates were different between the 2 locations according to a chi(2) test (P = .01). Seven MRSA isolates were recovered from football players and 1 from a wrestler; no MRSA isolates were recovered from the control group. The fingertip location of S aureus recovery from football players was significant when compared with both other locations in football players and fingertips in wrestlers and the control group (P < .05). Football players and wrestlers shared more personal items than the control group (P < .05). After the intervention, the football locker room and weight room samples were negative for S aureus.

Conclusions: Intact strengthening and conditioning equipment, proper hygiene, and proper disinfection methods lowered both environmental and human S aureus recovery at 1 university.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Football
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Male
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / transmission
  • Universities*
  • Weight Lifting
  • Wrestling