Resources to Fight MRSA and Staph Infections Among Grapplers

As The Mighty 600,000 knows, one of my pet projects is to help get the word out about MRSA, a potentially deadly form of staph infection that is common among Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling competitors. In a recent poll on our site, 25% of respondents said they personally have had either MRSA or another staph infection on their skin. That is very alarming!

The good news is that stopping MRSA is pretty straightforward if we all do a few simple things:

  • Shower thoroughly immediately after training
  • Wash your gi, rashguard, shorts, etc immediately after training
  • Clean the mats, grappling dummies, etc immediately after training

I recently shared the results of our MRSA poll with Jeff Hageman of the United States Centers for Disease Control. (If you’re a long time listener to The FightWorks Podcast, you know that Jeff was one of the very first guests we ever had!) When he saw the poll, he wrote back with some resources that can help Brazilian jiu-jitsu school and academy owners to spread the word about preventing staph among their students.

This site has a ton of great posters in varying styles that you can hang around the gym (especially the locker room!). I strongly encourage you to print some of these posters out to hang at your school.

Secondly, a recent video aimed at high school wrestlers was produced in conjunction with the National Wrestlers Coaches Association that does a great job explaining ways to prevent MRSA and other skin infections, as well as how to identify them. Hey even Dan Gable speaks in the video! Of course you want to watch it!

Go forth! Tap your opponents! And STAY CLEAN!

BJJ Poll: Have You Encountered MRSA / Staph infections?

Since the very early days of The FightWorks Podcast when we brought on a representative from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to discuss MRSA infections in Brazilian jiu-jitsu folks, we have tried to help make folks aware of MRSA, a deadly staph infection that appears on the skin. When a staph infection like this develops, it may feel like a large, painful zit or spider bite, but is in fact a bacteria that is resistant to traditional antibiotics and has claimed the lives of multiple wrestlers and grapplers like us.

When treated promptly, MRSA is entirely curable. So if you have such symptoms, get to a doctor fast and mention the possibility that you could have MRSA. And always, always wash your gi every time after you train!

Our question for you this week is whether or not you or anyone you know from training Brazilan jiu-jitsu / submission grappling has contracted MRSA. Let us know in the poll above, and if you have any stories you would like to share, put them in the comments below!

#74 Staph Hits The FightWorks Podcast & Rodrigo Medeiros Black Belt Corner

The rising star that you’ve heard the least about in combat sports over the last few years is undoubtedly the staph infection. It’s made appearances during reality television, afflicting Kenny Florian and others during the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. More recently cases have been reported among such names as Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, and Cole Escovedo.

Staph can kill.

This special episode of The FightWorks Podcast is dedicated to educating our listeners about the very real dangers of staph infections for combat sports participants. We replay one of our most important conversations we’ve ever had on the show in which we speak with a representative from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Afterwards, we’ll talk with FightWorks Podcast cohost Dan about his recent encounter with the bacteria.

Finally, we wind down with an installment of The BlackBelt Corner with Carlson Gracie Sr. black belt Rodrigo Medeiros.

staph infection

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Jeff Monson and Marcio Feitosa Among More Last Minute ADCC Changes

In an email blast sent out by Scotty from On The Mat this morning, we learn that both Jeff Monson and Marcio Feitosa will not be among those seen competing this weekend in New Jersey at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club World Submission Championships in Trenton, New Jersey.

Jeff Monson’s absence was ascribed to an undisclosed injury. No word on whether that will impact his appearance at the Gracie Fighting Championships May 19th in Columbus Ohio, where he is scheduled to take on Wes Sims in the final fight of the night.

Marcio Feitosa has apparently contracted a staph infection. This adds him to the list of fighters and grapplers also affected by MRSA, including but certainly not limited to Cole Escovedo, Forrest Griffin, and others. Staph is treatable (when correctly identified) but life-threatening if not caught in time. Please, readers, please make sure you take precautions at your gym by cleaning the mats frequently, washing your gis after rolling every time, and showering promptly after training.

Feitosa’s replacement was said to be Mike Fowler. Fowler is a very tough competitor who recently moved to Guam, where he is the only black belt in BJJ on the island. We will have to see if the apparent lack of high-end grapplers to help prepare him and the last minute invite affect him negatively.

This is going to be a great weekend. Looking forward to seeing you there!

#54 Rafael Lovato Jr. Interview

Rafael Lovato Jr., of Oklahoma, recently won the Super Heavy weightclass at the European Championships of BJJ and brought home a bronze medal in the Absolute division of the same tournament. Rafael’s been on a tear in the last few years, often participating in superfights around the country and even competing in the Professional Submission League. In this interview we get to know Rafael, learn about how his relationship with Saulo Ribeiro came to be, and the midwestern BJJ scene of the United States.

We also remind folks of the dangers of MRSA, often referred to as “staph” infections. Well-known MMA fighter Cole Escovedo was recently stricken with MRSA, which was not treated as early as possible and ultimately required surgery to mitigate the infection’s attack on his spine. As of a recent report from MMA Weekly, Cole’s back home. We wish him the best in his recovery, and encourage our listeners to go back and listen to our interview with a representative from the Centers for Disease Control on MRSA in the combat sports.

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Hand Sanitizers vs. MRSA in Grappling: Fighting clean

Okay I gotta say it: I disagree with Gumby’s recent blog post where he recommends using Febreeze AntiMicrobial as a way to keep one’s gi clean. I suppose in the absence of being able to wash one’s gi after rolling it’s advisable, but one should really, really wash the gi after every time you train. I know, some guys don’t, but they should.

The fact is that MRSA is an issue for all of us on the mat. If you’re not aware of MRSA, you may’ve heard of it referred to simply as “staph”. It’s appeared on a couple seasons of The Ultimate Fighter on SpikeTV (sometimes publicly, sometimes less so) and is an especially nasty type of staph infection that is transmitted through the skin and spreads in environments where there’s a lot of close human contact, like that among wrestlers, grapplers, and other team sports environments. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as ringworm, as MRSA can kill if not treated. It’s resistant to the normal first line antibiotics prescribed by physicians, and as such is more insidious because while patients and doctors believe the normal antibiotic is working, the infection continues to spread.

I’ve kept a squeeze pump of the drug store generic brand Purell in my car for a while, and apply it to my face and hands after training (Tip: it’s alcohol based, so do not get it in your eyes). Recently I was wondering if it’s of any value in preventing MRSA. I mean if MRSA is resistant to antibiotics, as they say, is it resistant to hand sanitizing gels too? Gumby’s post got me motivated to contact Jeff Hageman from the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta, whom we had here on The FightWorks Podcast back in Episode 7 to help get the word out about MRSA, so I could find out whether the Purell was doing me any good. Jeff was very helpful and I’ve posted some excerpts from his response:

Performing routine hand hygiene (eg., before and after participating), either hand washing with soap and water or using a waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer, is one of the best ways to prevent transmission of pathogens including MRSA and staph. In situations where sinks are not available for hand washing, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a good alternative… A general tip is to apply enough product, while rubbing over all surfaces of the hands, so that it takes ~30 seconds for your hands to dry.

So, now we know that Purell and similar hand sanitizing products do help in preventing the spread of MRSA. Good news!

Above all though, I’ll leave you with Jeff’s closing words in his email:

In addition to hand hygiene, general hygiene measures should also be encouraged such as showering immediately after participating, avoid sharing personal items like towels, washing uniforms after each use, and inspecting your skin for any abrasions or potential infections that might need care.

If you’ve got a MRSA aka “staph” story to share, feel free to share in the comments below!

Update 10.20.06 – Gumby’s posted a poll over on the OTM forums about gi washing frequency. Go vote! I’d like to see what folks are doing! (And who needs scolding!)

#33 Jake Shields Interview

Jake Shields, Abu Dhabi veteran and current Rumble on the Rock champion and Shooto Middleweight World Champion joins us on the show to discuss everything from his upcoming fight at Malice at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, to vegetarianism, to his training with Chuck Liddell and Cesar Gracie!

Black Belt Corner: Leo Dalla

Plus, a reminder of the risks of MRSA in combat sports.

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#7 Deadly Mat Bacteria & Acai as a Training Supplement

You call yourself a mixed martial arts and / or brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner? BAH! Maybe after listening to this episode! This time we’ll cover a couple of topics every up-to-date BJJ / MMA person needs to know about, and we devirginize ourselves in the editorial department.

Topic one: acai, the ideal dietary supplement for MMA and BJJ training, straight from the Brazilian amazon. Interviewee: Jeremy Black of Sambazon.

Topic two: MRSA, a potentially fatal bacterial infection making its way through team sports environments throughout the country. Interviewee: Jeff Hageman of the U.S. Government’s Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Editorial: reaction to the comment on ABC’s Emily’s Reason’s Why Not… where a character referred to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as “the gayest sport ever”.

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