TAMPA — Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks and veteran kicker Lawrence Tynes are each being treated for a MRSA infection, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers confirmed Thursday.
Nicks, still recuperating from surgery on his left big toe, has responded well to treatment for an infected blister on the side of his left foot, the Bucs said. Tynes is being treated for a toe infection on his right kicking foot.
Because both players were not responding to previous antibiotic treatment, cultures were taken and physicians determined the presence of MRSA, a bacterial staph infection that is particularly resistant to common antibiotics.
MRSA infections are also more painful and aggressive than typical staph infections.
Uncertain where Tynes and Nicks contacted their infection, the club ordered the team facility to be thoroughly cleaned by specialists last week while the Bucs were in New England to practice against the Patriots.
As an additional precaution, the Bucs have signed off on another round of specialized cleaning at club headquarters this weekend, when the team travels to Miami for a preseason game.
“Our primary concern is always the health and safety of our players and staff,” Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said in a released statement. “Our players were informed of the situation and we sought the advice of experts, including the NFL’s medical adviser, who provided counsel and approved of our comprehensive measures, including the treatment of our practice facility.”
The entire team was informed about the MRSA diagnosis for Nicks and Tynes on Monday and there have been no other players subsequently infected, the Bucs said.
“We will support the Bucs’ medical staff in any way that can be helpful,” said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
Football players are particularly prone to MRSA infections because of warm, moist conditions in the locker room. MRSA has also been a lingering concern for hospital patients.
MRSA is contagious and can cause life-threatening infections. It spreads through contact with an infected person or by exposure to MRSA-contaminated surfaces.
On his Twitter account, NFL Players Association executive George Atallah said the union is “looking into ensuring that the team met its obligation to inform the players of the situation in Tampa Bay.”
Patients with MRSA skin infections often exhibit redness in the infected area, accompanied by swelling, pain and pus-filled oozing.
Preventive measures include: washing your hands, taking showers and covering cuts and scrapes with a bandage.
In 2009, an NFL physicians survey of the league’s 32 clubs determined there were 33 MRSA infections from 2006-08.
The Cleveland Browns, in particular, have dealt with the MRSA issue repeatedly in recent years. Tight end Kellen Winslow, who played for the Bucs from 2009-11, said a staph infection in 2008 landed him in the Cleveland Clinic for three days.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is possible to get repeat infections with MRSA.
Staph skin infections generally start as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils or spider bites, according to the Mayo Clinic web site, which says the bacteria “can remain confined to the skin, but can also burrow deep into the body.”
MRSA infections can affect your bloodstream, lungs, heart, bones and joints.
Nicks, signed as a free agent from New Orleans last summer, had never missed a game in his first four NFL seasons while being named to two Pro Bowls. He was sidelined for the final nine games in 2012 due to a toe injury that required surgery.
Just when Nicks, 28, appeared to be making steady progress in training camp, he was diagnosed with a MRSA infection last week while he and the rest of the Bucs were in New England. Nicks practiced against the Patriots for three days but did not play in Friday night’s preseason game.
Nicks is now sidelined indefinitely and won’t accompany the Bucs to Miami for Saturday night’s matchup.
Tynes, 35, was signed as a free agent a month ago after kicker Connor Barth suffered a torn Achilles tendon. While Tynes was out with a toe injury, Derek Dimke had been doing all the kicking for Tampa Bay in training camp before the Bucs signed veteran Rian Lindell on Wednesday.