Rugby players risk skin infection by sharing

Rugby players who share much more than banter with their teammates are at risk of passing on serious skin infections, Public Health England experts warn.

A recent investigation at a Midlands rugby club found the PVL-MSSA bug had spread between players, giving rise to boils, abscesses and carbuncles – thanks to the communal use of towels, razors and ice baths. 

In some serious cases, the infection can lead to life-threatening illness and cause skin and tissues to die. As the bug can spread easily, family members and close contacts of those infected could also need medical attention. 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 and found four cases of the infection, having screened about 60 members. 

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

Dr Deepti Kumar, at Public Health England, said: “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.” Data from Public Health England shows there are between 1,200 and 1,500 cases of PVL-MSSA nationally each year. 

However, hygiene in the world of rugby and contact sports has taken a leap forward in recent years with the addition of antibacterial protection in clubhouse shower rooms. Biomaster antibacterial protection offers a built-in defence against harmful bacteria and is proven to kill bugs on surface contact. 

Biomaster gives products long term and effective antimicrobial properties, reducing the level of harmful bacteria in the environment and the likelihood of cross contamination. 

The technology can be specified into any permanent feature within buildings including shower room wall tiles. Towels, mouthguards, even safety razors can also be treated with Biomaster to give 24-hour protection against harmful bugs.

*Please note that Addmaster was acquired by the Polygiene Group AB in January 2021, so all news articles prior to that date will still be branded as Addmaster.