Despite how well your local gym keeps everything fresh, clean and disinfected, they can’t clean every member that walks through the door. Almost anyone could be carrying Staph infection or MRSA.
According to WebMD.com, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA (pronounced mur-sah) is a highly evolved form of staph infection that is extremely resistant to most common antibiotics. Staph or MRSA both present as sores on the skin and are painful and annoying, but if the bacteria are allowed to enter your blood stream, it can be very dangerous or even fatal. It is spread by contact so you can get MRSA by touching someone or touching something contacted by someone who carries the bacteria.
The problem, however, is not as simple as avoiding people with open sores because you can be carrying staph without even knowing it. WebMD states that “Garden-variety staph are common bacteria that can live on our bodies. Plenty of healthy people carry staph without being infected by it. In fact, 25%-30% of us have staph bacteria in our noses.”
When your immune system is low like it is when you are training hard, and you come in physical contact with others and/or equipment that is handled frequently by others, (like in a gym for instance) your risk of getting a staph infection or MRSA is exponentially higher. Since the cure can be expensive and very difficult due to MRSA’s resistance to the usual array of antibiotics, an ounce of prevention is worth a whole lot more than a pound of cure.
The best way to prevent getting MRSA is to keep your hands clean by washing with hot soapy water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after you handle things others have also touched. Don’t share razors or personal grooming items, and if you puncture your skin make sure it is immediately disinfected and covered properly with a bandage.