Staph Infection Warning for Athletes

Dr. Deresinski
Dr. Deresinski
Estee Okumura, paddler
Estee Okumura, paddler

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Alarming research out of the University of Hawaii School of Medicine: When it comes to staph infections, the UH says Hawaii ranks in the top three in the world.

On Friday, UH brought in Stanford researcher Dr. Stan Deresinski to warn local coaches, trainers, and athletes. He says a new type of staph has morphed into a more dangerous organism, one that's more infectious and more resistant to anti-biotics.

A game stages the perfect playing field for staph infections, with bacteria waiting to touch down on open wounds and infect broken skin.

"For staph to get in, you don't have to have a break big enough that you could see. A very minor break in the skin that you might not see with the naked eye is sufficient enough for it to gain access," says Dr. Deresinski.

"Yeah we're concerned, we have it in the back of our mind but when we come in we usually use common sense and good judgement, you know we don't come in with open sores or when we're sick and we definitely shower well after," says Estee Okumura, a paddler.

UH says Hawaii's athletes are especially vulnerable. Researchers aren't sure why, but native populations such as those in Hawaii, appear more prone to staph.

"We know that Alaskan natives, natives throughout North America, and aborigine natives in Australia have increased risk of infection," says Dr. Deresinski.

Athlete or not, the best way to tackle a staph infection is prevention: avoid sharing personal equipment like towels or razors, keep lockers clean, wash hands and cuts thoroughly.

Doctors say good hygiene is the best defense.

Staph infections spread skin to skin. Doctors say they usually start out as boils and in rare cases, can cause pneumonia.