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MRSA linked to contact sports

People who play contact sports are more than twice as likely as those who play non-contact sports to carry MRSA, research has found.

Even if they do not show signs of infection, those who play football, rugby and other contact sports are more likely to carry methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

This puts them at a higher risk of infection and increases the likelihood of spreading the bug.

Players should practice good hygiene and not share soap, razors or towels to lower the chances of passing on the superbug, the study advised.

Researchers in the US analysed the time it took for college athletes to be colonised with Staphylococcus aureus (staph), including MRSA, and how long they carried it.

The study followed 377 male and female Vanderbilt University varsity athletes playing 14 different sports, including 224 who played contact sports such as football, basketball and lacrosse, comparing rates of colonisation with staph to the 153 who played non-contact sports like baseball and golf.

Contact sport athletes were more than twice as likely as non-contact players to be colonised with MRSA, meaning they carried the bug on their bodies, usually in their noses and throats.

The study also found contact athletes contracted MRSA more quickly and were colonised longer than non-contact athletes.