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Artificial Turf Increases MRSA Risk, Study Says

Everyone knows football can be dangerous, with more catastrophic injuries and deaths, and more concussions than any other sport.

Football also produces more antibiotic-resistant skin infection or "super bug" known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus ("MRSA") than any other sport.

Three studies of MRSA among Texas high school football players conducted by the Texas Department of State Health Services appear to suggest that, for those who play on artificial turf, the risk of MRSA is even higher.

The studies found that the MRSA infection rate among high school football players in Texas is a whopping 16 times higher than the estimated national average. The percentage of fields in Texas covered with artificial turf is also much higher than the national average - accounting for nearly one-fifth of the fields in the football-crazy state - which leads to more turf burns.

While the Texas studies don't establish a statistical link between artificial turf and MRSA infections due to insufficient data, the anecdotal evidence suggests exactly that.

"The turf burns themselves are just the kind of minor skin injury that MRSA can exploit," according to Elliot Pellman, medical liaison for the National Football League.

The lesson for parents and players: take infections at the site of a turf burn seriously.

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