Rugby Players at Serious Risk of Skin Infections


Rugby players who share towels, razors or even ice baths are at risk of passing on serious skin infections, Public Health England experts warn.

An investigation at a Midlands rugby club found the PVL-MSSA bug had spread between players, giving rise to boils, abscesses and carbuncles.

And in serious cases, the infection can lead to life-threatening illness and cause skin and tissues to die.


Doctors have urged players to indulge in less sharing and better hygiene.

‘Close contact’

The condition is caused by a strain of bacteria, known as methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, that produces a toxin called Panton-Valentine leukocidin.

Public Health England investigators examined a cluster of suspected infections at the same rugby team between August 2013 and February 2014.

They found four cases of the infection, having screened about 60 members.

And their tests revealed an identical strain of bacteria was responsible for all four infections, suggesting the bug was being transmitted between people.


Players were then asked to complete questionnaires to help doctors identify which activities were putting them at risk.

Some 20% said they shared towels regularly, 10% admitted to sharing razors and 5% shared clothing despite almost a third saying they had suffered skin conditions in the last year.

Experts also noted that some players shared cold baths after games.

Read more on the BBC.

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