Duke creates infection control guide for NFL teams

Infection prevention and control measures are part of daily life in healthcare settings, but they should also be important considerations for NFL teams that want to keep their players safe and healthy.

That's why the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, part of Durham, N.C.-based Duke University School of Medicine, teamed up with the NFL and the NFL Players Association to create an infection-prevention manual for the professional football league.

Athletic training facilities like those used by NFL teams are not that different from hospitals, Deverick Anderson, MD, the director of the DICON Program for Infection Prevention in the NFL, argued.

"At its core, the foundation for this manual is based on the approach that athletic training facilities are medical facilities," he said. "Many of the same infection prevention practices and recommendations related to medical care in hospitals and outpatient clinics are applicable guides for infection prevention in athletic training facilities."

The manual outlines best practices and recommendations for preventing the spread of certain infections, like the flu, fungal infections, gastrointestinal illnesses, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other illnesses. It also targets players, trainers and team physicians to raise awareness and knowledge of infection control.

All 32 NFL teams have been given the manual, and members of DICON are working with NFL teams to implement the manual's guidance.

"The health and safety of our players is paramount," said Jeff Miller, NFL senior vice president of health and safety policy. "We rely on the leading experts and protocols to provide our players the best possible care. DICON offers that in infectious disease prevention and protection."

The league has had issues with infections recently. For instance, a former NFL player sued the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year, alleging that unsanitary conditions in the team's facility led to a MRSA infection that subsequently ended his career.

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