You can be in your physical prime, as strong as they come, have access to the best of medical care in the country, and still be hit hard – real hard — by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). That’s the case right now with New York Giants tight end Daniel Fells.
On Oct. 2, Fells, 32, appeared in an emergency room with a 104-degree temperature. Doctors diagnosed a MRSA infection in his ankle and admitted him to hospital. He was immediately given antibiotics but they couldn’t control it. The concern, therefore, was that the MRSA would spread. Not just to the bone and tissue in his foot, which would then require amputation; but if it got into his bloodstream it could be fatal. So Fells was transferred to the ICU and underwent a series of five surgeries to save his foot and his life.
So far so good – sort of. Daniel Fells is still in hospital but he is out of ICU. His foot seems to have been saved from amputation but he may require further surgeries. And the NY Daily News is reporting that his football career is likely over because of the extensive damage to his foot.
Fells is not alone among athletes with his MRSA. A 2007 ESPN report, MRSA Has Sidelined Careers, Even Caused Death, says MRSA is endemic in professional sports and mentions several high profile athletes who contracted it including Grant Hill of the Orlando Magic, Junior Seau of the New England Patriots, Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics, Drew Gooden of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Braylon Edwards of the Cleveland Browns. Since the ESPN report came out there’s been further outbreaks in the NFL in Cleveland and Washington, and in Tampa where MRSA has recently ended the careers of Buccaneer players Carl Nicks and Lawrence Tynes.
And there’s this: One in 4 patients discharged from the hospital after being treated for MRSA will have to go back, often more than once, to the ICU and require further surgery. That’s because MRSA is easily spread to most surfaces you’ve had contact with and so you can easily pick it up again. That’s why the Giants, for example, hired infection specialists to clean their facilities. But Daniel Fells wasn’t taken to the ER from the team facilities, he was taken there from his home. Where, recent science also tells us, among households with people recently treated for it, MRSA is regularly found and spread to the other people who live there.
Daniel Fells lives with his wife and 2 young children.