An expert has suggested that working out in gyms may increase the risk of developing MRSA superbug infections.
Dr. Jorge Parada, associate professor of medicine, infectious diseases, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood has revealed that people who workout at gyms are increasing their risk of catching MRSA superbug.
"There is no doubt that MRSA and other infections can be transmitted without direct person-to-person contact," said Parada, who is also medical director of the infection control program at Loyola University Hospital in Maywood.
"Although it's low, it is possible to catch MRSA by using shared gym equipment like free weights or exercise cycles. The first step in preventing the spread of any type of infection is awareness of the possibility," she added.
"If we were dealing with something that virtually nobody had, then it wouldn't be a big deal.
"The problem with the MRSA epidemic in the community is you don't know when you're going to touch something that somebody with MRSA touched," she added.
Given the conditions, MRSA can survive for hours, even days on the surface of gym equipment and other inanimate objects, Prada suggested simple steps that can minimize your chances of catching MRSA.
For instance, you should always use clothing or a towel as a barrier between your skin and shared equipment, such as weight-training machines, wrestling or yoga mats and sauna and locker room benches.
Also, customers should insist that the gym have antiseptic wipes readily available to be used to clean equipment before and after each use.
"Before, so you don't get what somebody left, and after, so you don't leave a potentially harmful present for somebody else," she said.
Alex Tomich, RN, MSN, infection control practitioner at Loyola University Medical Centre in Maywood, said that mostly people tend to wear less clothing, which results in greater skin-to-skin contact and more cuts and abrasions.
"Any open sores should be covered with a bandage and kept clean in order to prevent someone else from becoming exposed to a possible case of MRSA," said Tomich.
"Washing your hands a number of times a day is the best defense we have against MRSA infections. That simple act trumps everything else that you can do," Tomich said. "And you should always make sure to shower after every workout."
In addition, you should never share personal items such as towels, clothing, swimwear combs, soap, shampoo or shaving gear with anyone else.