Staphylococcus aureus, or Staph, is a common germ that many people carry in their nasal passages or on their skin with no ill effects. Staph can cause an infection if it gets into the blood.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of Staph infection that has developed antibiotic resistance (certain antibiotics are unable to kill the bacteria).

Staph is spread primarily by direct skin-to-skin contact or with direct contact to infection drainage of someone who is infected with the bacteria. MRSA may also occur through indirect contact with contaminated surfaces or personal hygiene items, such as towels or razors.

Symptoms of Staph infections appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that might be red, swollen, painful, warm to the touch, full of pus or other drainage, and accompanied by a fever. If left untreated, Staph can cause severe illness that requires hospitalization.

If you suspect you have a Staph or MRSA infection, or have been exposed to Staph or MRSA, please consult your primary care provider. Students can reach out to the Student Health and Wellness Center.

Staph infections are easily prevented using simple, everyday measures:

  • Wash hands often with warm, soapy water after using a restroom or locker room, and after sneezing, blowing, or touching nose.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Keep cuts, scrapes, and wounds clean and covered until healed.
  • Do not share personal hygiene items such as towels, soap, and razors.


Due to the nature of athletics, in particular contact sports such as football and wrestling, Staph and MRSA infections must be taken seriously.

In addition to the prevention tips above, athletes should:

  • Closely follow trainer and medical provider instructions concerning hygiene practices.
  • Learn to spot Staph and MRSA infections.
  • Immediately notify trainer and medical provider of suspected Staph or MRSA infections.
  • Shower as soon as possible after direct contact sports, and dry using a clean towel.
  • Wash and clean equipment between uses.
  • Carefully monitor dry and/or cracked skin, and apply lotion as necessary.
  • Be held out of competition if the athlete exhibits an infection involving drainage that cannot be covered adequately, and the sport includes close personal contact or shared surfaces.
  • Wash towels, uniforms, scrimmage shirts, and any other laundry in hot water and ordinary detergent and dry on the hottest possible cycle. Prewash or rinse with plain water items that have been grossly contaminated with body fluids.

Source: "Information on Staph Infections Instructions for Athletes", University of Texas UIL Health and Safety Department

More Information:

Hand Hygiene (CDC)


Staphylococcal Infections for Athletes