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ex-lucy
14-08-06, 18:08
The scientific literature reveals that - due to the close-contact nature of their sports - wrestlers, rugby players, and American football participants are most at risk for picking up an infection from another player. The most commonly spread disease is a viral, 'herpes simplex' skin infection (also called 'herpes gladiatorium'), which is easily acquired by wrestlers and rugby players. For example, 60 out of 175 wrestlers at a training camp in Minnesota recently came down with herpes gladiatorium. Medical experts determined that the herpes virus was spread readily because some wrestlers were allowed to compete even though they had skin rashes. Transmission of the virus occurred through skin-to-skin contact, with the recipient of the virus more likely to become ill if he already possessed skin abrasions from 'mat burns.' It was believed that no viruses were spread via soap, saliva, or shared water bottles.

However, that doesn't mean that drinking fluids from a common water bottle is trouble-free. Five years ago, three football players from Ohio, their coach, and a student manager all developed viral meningitis, a potentially severe inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, within a one-week time span. The sharing of a common drinking vessel seemed to be the key factor which spread the disease.

At about the same time, several members of a high school football team in New York came down with viral lung infections after drinking water from the team cooler. Doctors attending to the team members reckoned that the outbreak could have been prevented if they players had used disposable cups and avoided oral contact with common drinking containers.

Hepatitis B is more worrying than measles, but no cases of hepatitis B transmission through sports have been reported in the United States or Britain. Only in Japan, where five sumo wrestlers were infected with hepatitis B after a teammate bled on them, has there been a clearcut report of hepatitis B transmission during sports activities.

The bottom line? If you're careful about avoiding oral contact with common drinking vessels and skin contact with infected athletes, the risk of picking up serious infections during your sports activities is fairly low. You can decrease your risk even further by obtaining, flu, measles, and Hepatitis B vaccinations.