Millions of people in the U.S. will develop illnesses and infections from antibiotic-resistant staph infections or bugs this year. Most people will have flu-like symptoms and recover easily. But, for many, the problem can result in loss of limbs and life as the sports world learned this past week. The New York Giants tight end Daniel Fells developed a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection that may cause the 32-year-old to lose his foot.
Reportedly, Fells was being treated for a persistent ankle issue when the infection was discovered. He was a late scratch for last weekend’s game and wound up in the hospital. Since then, the tight end has endured five surgeries, with more expected, to try to stop the infection from spreading. Given the serious nature of MRSA, amputating the leg could become necessary.
Doctors have operated on the football player five times so far this month, and are expecting to perform more surgeries, as they try to stop the infection from spreading. The report claims doctors are still fighting to save his foot, which could face amputation “given the nature of the infection.” Doctors reportedly also fear that the MRSA has infected Fells’ bone and could travel into his blood stream, which can become fatal.
Team doctors, trainer Ronnie Barnes, and representatives from the players union spoke to Fells’ teammates this week to let them know the situation. They wanted everyone to know about the MRSA diagnosis that may cause Fells to lose his foot before the NY Giants put the player on the injured reserve list and the news broke publicly.
Doctors have not discovered how Fells contracted MRSA. In the interim, the other Giants players were advised to wash their hands frequently, take showers before using the hot tubs and wear shower slippers. “It’s a very serious thing, has been that way in this league for quite a few years,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “Everyone has been very aware of it.”
MRSA is a type of bacteria that is often labeled a superbug because of its resistance to several antibiotics. About one in three people carry staph infections in their nose, but about two in 100 people carry MRSA strains that rarely get out of control like the infection Fells got. In most cases, MRSA presents with flu symptoms or as a skin infection that is spread through contact with an infected wound, such as by sharing equipment that have touched infected skin. As a result, sports teams are susceptible.
The NY Giants’ coach has said that Fells did not have a injury on his skin surface that anybody was aware of. He added, “It was an acute joint (ankle) problem along with a temperature.” Reported the team has thoroughly disinfected its facility.
“It’s scary, but I know we are doing everything we possibly can,” reported Zak DeOssie, the Giants player representative. “What else can you do? You have to be extra diligent washing your hands, reporting any sort of lesion or anything that feels not right. It’s just an unfortunate part of the job. We have to be extra wary as we move forward.”
According to CBS Sports, there was an earlier antibiotic-resistant bug outbreak in the NFL during camp before the 2013 season. Three Tampa Bay Buccaneers played became infection in the camp. One, Lawrence Tynes, sued the team and received a reported $20 million.
In the meantime, the Giants are keeping players aware and Fells in their prayers. They are working with infectious disease specialists to follow MRSA protocols, while Fells and his doctors continue to fight the infection that may cause the NY Giants player to lose his foot.
Written and edited by Dyanne Weiss
CBS: NY Giants player could lose foot to MRSA, report says
CDC: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Infections
ESPN: Report: Daniel Fells has 5 surgeries for MRSA; doctors hope to save foot
NJ.com: Report: Daniel Fells has 5 surgeries for MRSA; doctors hope to save foot
Photo courtesy Keith Allison’s Flickr page – Creative Commons license