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12:21 PM

The New York Times: When Athletes Share Infections

by Perri Klass, M.D., photo by Hiroko Masuike

When parents of young athletes reel off their kids' sports-related health issues, they usually think of sprains, broken bones and concussions. Infectious diseases may not even make the list.

But to pediatricans, the close contact and casual equipment give and take that are often compoments of team bonding can also be a breeding ground for infection. A new clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics focuses on how to prevent and control outbreaks of infections diseases in organized sports.

"All kinds of things travel through the teams," said Dr. Stephen G. Rice, who is starting his 43rd season as a high school team doctor. Adolescents can often be "sort of sloppy about sharing water bottles, equipment, sometimes even helmets," said Dr. RIce, the director of sports medicine at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and one of the authors of the report.

An important role for the medical practitioner, Dr. Rice said, is talking to the athletes about hygiene and cleanliness, It's important at the sports physical, as well as for the team doctor, the coach and the school.


Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, the director of infectious disease and professor of pediatrics at Children's Mercy Kansas City, and an author of the report, said that those sports physicals need to be done well, and done by the adolescent's regular doctor. The visit should be an opportunity to discuss the importance of good personal hygiene, including reminders about not sharing water bottles or sports equipment, about cleaning your footwear and changing your socks, and making sure your feet are clean and dry before you put on those socks.


Read the full article via The New York Times.

Learn more about the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Mercy.

Read about the Sports Medicine Center at Children's Mercy.