Germs in the Gym07/26/13
FRIDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Talk about an unwanted pass
-- basketballs and volleyballs can spread potentially dangerous
germs among players, according to a new study.
The findings point to the need for athletes, coaches, trainers
and parents to understand the necessity of properly cleaning sports
The study focused on the bacteria
Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause staph infections in
athletes. One kind of staph bug is methicillin-resistant
S. aureus(MRSA), which is resistant to many antibiotics.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, analyzed
the germ threat on basketballs, volleyballs, players' hands and the
gym floor. For each phase of the study, two of the three surfaces
were sterilized and the third was left alone. All three surfaces
were then checked for
Next, the players used the balls to simulate actual game play.
In each phase, previously sterile surfaces accumulated more
S. aureusthrough play. The researchers also discovered that
S. aureuscould survive on basketballs and volleyballs for up
to 72 hours in storerooms.
"The overwhelming prevalence of S. aureuswe encountered supports our understanding of the gym environment as a reservoir of germs," study supervisor Joshua Cotter, a postdoctoral fellow in orthopedic surgery, said in a university news release.
"Institutions, coaches and athletes should take note of the role the sports ball can play as a vehicle for the transmission of potentially life-threatening germs," he added.
Although the study looked only at
S. aureus, other dangerous bacteria and viruses may also be
spread among athletes the same way, Cotter said.
The study was presented at a recent meeting of the American
College of Sports Medicine. Research presented at medical meetings
should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed
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