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Hygiene warning for rugby players

Sports men and women are being reminded by health officials to practise good hygiene after experts identified "risky" behaviours among some rugby players which could increase chances of getting a nasty infection.

A small study being presented at Public Health England's (PHE) annual conference in Warwick found that rugby players often share towels or razors and do not mind taking a dip in the same ice bath as their fellow team members.

Researchers were conducting an investigation into a serious infection which usually causes boils, abscesses and carbuncles.

They looked into a rugby club in the south Midlands as the sport, along with wrestling, has been linked to the condition - known as PVL-MSSA - because of close contact and the spread of infection through open "turf burns".

The PHE team in the south Midlands carried out tests on team members and staff to see if they could detect the presence of PVL-MSSA bacteria. They also asked them about certain behaviours which could lead to the spread of infection.

Four cases were identified " suggesting transmission within this setting", researchers said.

And out of the 59 people who responded to a qu estionnaire, 11 said they regularly share towels, one in 10 admitted frequently sharing razors and one in three said they used a cold bath after a game or training.

Dr Deepti Kumar, a consultant in communicable disease control at PHE, said: "PVL-MSSA can be a very serious infection and any positive result either for colonisation or active infection will require appropriate medical treatment not just of the patient but also of their close contacts or family.

"Because it can spread easily it is important to ensure that the correct procedures are in place to limit the spread of the bacteria.

"The investigation identified a number of high-risk practices among the players which increase their chances of getting an infection, such as sharing towels and razors, and sharing ice baths with their fellow team members.

"We would urge any sportsperson who plays a sport where cuts and grazes are commonplace to practise good hygiene and not share any item with fellow team members to reduce their risk of developing an infection."

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