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Infection Control and Team Sports

This page was reviewed or revised on Friday, October 28, 2011 2:19 PM

Playing sports is a great form of exercise, and exercise is an important way to keep your body healthy. However, playing sports can be a source for spreading infectious diseases.

Sport teams are exposed to the spread of disease from sharing water bottles, frequent face-to-face contact and sharing facilities and rooms.

Diseases that pose a particular health threat to sports teams include:

  • Meningitis
  • Skin infections
  • Breathing infections (like flu)
  • Stomach illnesses (like noro-virus)

It’s very important that teams take extra safety measures at all times to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. In order to play well, team players have to be well.

Here is some important advice for coaches, parents and team players:

  • Coaches, staff and parents must stress to players to work as a team in all areas of hygiene and infection control.
  • Stress to players the importance of frequent and complete handwashing. 
  • Players should avoid playing if they have signs of fever, diarrhea and/or vomiting. 
  • Make sure all players, coaches and staff have their own water bottle; never share. Bottles should be labelled, washed and disinfected after each practice or game. 
  • Make sure all food and drink for the team is prepared, handled and stored following safe food handling practices. 
  • Make sure all players, coaches and staff have current vaccinations. Encourage team members to get an annual flu shot. 
  • Stress to players the need for daily showers with soap. Stress good foot hygiene. This includes washing, drying and the use of foot powder. 
  • Players should not share personal products like towels and brushes. Products such as creams and lotions should be shared using pump bottles or using a single-use applicator. 
  • Remind players that all garments, like sweaters and socks should be washed after each practice and game. 
  • All equipment should be hung to dry after each practice or game, and cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. Follow manufacturer instructions.
  • Players should report all skin rashes to the coach and team staff right away so the proper treatment can be done to reduce the spread.

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