Third NFL Player For Tampa Bay Buccaneers Develops MRSA Infection
October 14, 2013

Third NFL Player For Tampa Bay Buccaneers Develops MRSA Infection

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

MRSA, a dangerous staph infection that is notoriously resistant to antibiotics, has been diagnosed in several football players from Florida since August.

On Friday, October 11, team doctors for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers confirmed that a third player had developed the dangerous MRSA staph infection. Previously, two players on the team -- Lawrence Tynes and Carl Nicks -- had been diagnosed with the antibiotic-resistant infection in August.

While it was not immediately clear who the third player to develop the infection was, an NFL-released statement later Friday named Johnthan Banks as the third player to be diagnosed. However, team doctors said he is not at risk to transmit it to other players and was cleared to play Sunday.

The NFL Players’ Association had questioned whether the game should be played at Raymond James Stadium over the concern of possible infection transmission. The NFL said in an updated statement that it worked closely with a “jointly retained specialist” to conduct medical examinations and facility inspections. The league was in agreement by late Saturday that Banks did not pose a risk to others and was subsequently cleared to play football. The league also met with team officials from the Philadelphia Eagles to ensure they would be safe during their trip to Tampa Bay.

Tynes, who contracted MRSA in August, has since been placed on the non-football injury list and is still being treated for his infection. Nicks, who was also infected in August, had since returned to work, returning on Week 3.

However, sources told ESPN Senior NFL Insider Chris Mortensen on Friday that Nicks had a recurrence of the staph infection in his toe after developing a blister. It was noted by Dr. Deverick Anderson of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, who conducted the safety assessment prior to this weekend’s game at Tampa, that it is possible that Nicks could require surgery if the infection gets into the bone of his toe.

The NFL said Dr. Anderson had found substantial evidence that the players had three separate strains of MRSA brought into the facility from outside sources. And although Dr. Anderson had not examined Tynes, he was positive that Tynes and Nicks did not spread the infection to each other, as well as to Banks.

MRSA can easily spread through even the tiniest of skin openings and via the use of shared towels that come into contact with the skin.

DeMaurice Smith, a union executive director, said a grievance against the Bucs was filed on behalf of Tynes. This is due to being placed on the non-football injury list rather than on reserve. This means he is not receiving proper benefits, such as 401k contributions.

This grievance addresses "significant concerns about the manner in which that player and perhaps other players' safety was handled by the team," said Smith in a statement last week.

The grievance also alleges that Tynes was not cultured for MRSA by the team, which caused a delay in proper treatment by more than two weeks.

"This underscores the need for a leaguewide, comprehensive and standardized infectious disease protocol," Smith said, according to Tampa Bay Times. "It also calls for improved accountability measures on health and safety issues by the NFL over the clubs."

Anderson said during a round of questioning on Saturday that he is not sure why the Bucs were the only team with three cases of MRSA. He did note, however, that he believes there is no additional danger to players.

After getting the all-clear, Eagles spokesman Derek Boyko told USA Today that the team would travel to Tampa as scheduled for Sunday’s game.

A survey of NFL physicians has revealed that there has been 33 MRSA staph infections league-wide between 2006 and 2008 – 11 per season among the 32 teams. Apart from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers were among the teams with notable MRSA cases.

The New England Patriots, who had combined practices with the Bucs this past August, had not encountered any infections.