As hard as it may be to imagine, things inside the Buccaneers organization have gone from bad to worse.
A day after revealing that guard Carl Nicks had a recurrence of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in his foot, Tampa Bay announced another player had contracted the antibiotic resistant strain of staph.
General manger Mark Dominik held a press conference on Friday after to discuss the situation, which has created an even darker cloud over One Buccaneer Place.
“We are here today to obviously report that we did a third case or MRSA within this organization to my right actually is Dr. Anderson a well renowned infectious disease specialist and he is here as a member of DICON (Duke Infection Control Outreach Network),” Dominik said. “We have actually been working with their organization, we have been in constant contact with the NFLPA, the National Football League in regards to what is going on. And obviously with DICON, with there expertise in thi,s as well as their practice, have been very important to us and we continue to move forward.”
The Buccaneers reached out to Dr. Deverick J. Anderson who is the Co-Director of DICON and one of the nation’s premier authorities of infectious disease, to help ease the concerns of the members of the organization.
Dominik talked about the decision to fly Anderson in.
“I will tell you that one of the main (points of) emphasis, we had Dr. Anderson fly in, and this morning (he) spent over an hour just with a Q & A with our players to be able to answer questions about MRSA and anything they felt like they needed to do from a safety standpoint and intelligent standpoint,” Dominik said. “Then we followed it up and actually had a meeting with all of our football staff and had another one where they actually talked to the other members of our organization. Again for Dr. Anderson to field any questions we had. We also felt like today would be a good day as well to be able to as well to ask questions and we will fill you in you in as much as we can from a medical standpoint and football-related and/or medically-related.”
Dominik would not reveal the identity of the player citing medical confidentiality along with a request by the unnamed player and his agent, but multiple Twitter reports stated the third MRSA case was rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks. Tampa Bay’s second-rounder in the 2013 NFL Draft was not at practice, and was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report, with an illness.
During the course of the press conference Anderson was asked if there was any connection between the three cases of MRSA, belonging to Nicks, Lawrence Tynes and now presumably Banks.
“First of all that the idea is this is a single type of MRSA that is occurring in these patients – we still don’t know about the third one yet – we still need additional information about the specific MRSA we are dealing with, but we can definitively say the first two cases (Nicks and Tynes) were not related to each other,” Anderson said. “That being said, there have been quite a few changes that based on our recommendations the facility has put into place and additional recommendations that the facility will be using moving forward.”
Dr. Anderson also said he felt that One Buccaneer Place was a safe working environment despite the latest news.
“I can say that I believe it is a safe environment for players and staff and I think there are a few reasons why this is the case,” Anderson said. “I got to come and review the facility about a month ago and got to see how practice was performed and I think based on my observations there was anything very high risk. I think football in and of itself is a high risk factor for MRSA and MRSA infections in general. So in fact a case, and now two and three cases occurred not necessarily in and of itself mean that this is any higher risk than any other football location in the country.”
Anderson was also asked if this is somewhat random, why do the Buccaneers have three cases and the rest of the league hasn’t reported any.
“I think that is a great question, and I don’t think we know the answer to that to be perfectly honest,” Anderson said. “I think MRSA is very common and there are several practices that occur that make it more likely to identify it. And so if you culture every single skin infection that happened you would find MRSA. And I think to some extent it is related to culturing practices, which is, from a clinical perspective a good thing. You want to know it is you are dealing with. Other than that specific thought, I don’t know, I don’t know why we have three cases in this location and not in others.”
Contracting MRSA is tough enough for anyone to deal with, but having to fight a second bout is even more difficult, as in the case of Nicks. Head coach Greg Schiano talked about his disappointment for Nicks.
“I’m very disappointed and then immediately concerned, because we’ve (Schiano and Nicks) been through a lot together with this whole thing," Schiano said. "Obviously him a lot more than me with the illness. I just feel for the guy, because he has busted him hump to do everything. It isn’t easy what he’s been through. To feel like it’s behind you, and then all of the sudden – it’s a tricky deal, as I’m sure Doc talked about.”
The question was posed by PewterReport.com to Anderson if maybe the Buccaneers rushed Nicks’ return before the infection was completely gone. Anderson gave the Bucs medical staff his full confidence that things were handled properly.
“I did get to review some of his records and see which antibiotic he received and the duration of the antibiotic therapy that he did receive, and to be honest it did seem very reasonable,” Anderson said. “These are high-powered antibiotics that he received for a very long period of time. We typically do not do major follow-up testing and that is to say you don’t have to demonstrate that you’ve got MRSA eliminated from the skin. Instead you’re looking for how do his signs and symptoms improve. And it’s my understanding from talking to the physician that was caring for him that his foot tremendously improved and essentially that’s the kind of criteria that we would typically use to say, can someone return to work. And not just in the NFL necessarily, but work in general. There are specific policies say in a hospital setting that we would use to dictate when a person can come back to work after they had an MRSA infection. He would have met those criteria.”
Talking to those inside the building reaction was mixed on how it is affecting the team and their level of concern.
“I think player, coach, anyone is concerned,” Schiano said. “Again, I can tell you personally, and I probably know a lot more than most because of what has happened since training camp, but I learned a heck of a lot more today in an hour than I did in all my own. It’s really dangerous, all of us amateur doctors via the internet.
“To listen to an expert really address each question, I thought doctor was excellent, just dead-on with each question. I think coming out of that meeting – you’re not sticking your head in the sand, you know it’s a serious issue, but I know I feel much more equipped to move forward, and that was the whole purpose is to help these guys be equipped to handle it, to move forward and go win a football game.”
Dashon Goldson said he isn’t concerned about the situation
“Nobody is really scared or nervous about the MRSA, we are pretty much educated on it,” Goldson said. “We are good and pretty much focused on playing this football game this weekend.”
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson agreed with Goldson.
“The organization showed hey are very committed to making this place a safe working environment, bringing in the best of best in the world down here to speak to us about it,” Jackson said. “I think guys are really confident about it (not being an issue or concern). You address it, you put it out there, you inform players make them feel comfortable. They have done the best job they could have done.”
Jackson said he is not in fear, nor are his teammates.
“It’s really not, that’s one thing that we learned today, talking with one of the best specialists in this country, how common it actually is. It’s like a germ, like anything else, it’s around in any environment, so the fact that we’ve had some cases here, it can be cured, they can obviously be fixed, there’s medicine to address it and we’re using the best people at our disposal. The guys are confident that if anything comes up, we’re going to address it. I don’t think it’s a scare at all.”
Dominik said that the Bucs have a plan to limit the possibility of any more players contracting MRSA.
“It is something that obviously is very important to us,” Dominik said. “The player and health safety of our players is again of the utmost importance. It is something we have worked very strenuously with, our training staff, our equipment staff our policies and procedures we have put in place, going all the way back to even before August but certainly post August when we had the first case, first two cases. And we have continued to follow those policies and procedures and we are going to continue to find new policies that we are talking about even now to even further strengthen our situation.”
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