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Nov 10, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- BACTERIA INFECTS ATHLETES

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a drug-resistant bacteria that infects hospital patients, is also infecting U.S. athletes. Ten percent of players on a Connecticut college football team had MRSA skin infections and two were hospitalized. Even minor damage to the skin, such as turf burns, greatly increased players' risk of contracting MRSA and athletes who practiced cosmetic body shaving had a 43 percent risk of infection. In a study, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Dr. Elizabeth Begier, says the Connecticut MRSA outbreak was stemmed, in part, by the proper disinfection of whirlpools and the installation of antibacterial soap dispensers in the showers. However, the researchers recommend discontinuing the practice of body shaving to decrease the risk of infection because shaving create micro-abrasions in the skin.

CONSIDERING GAMBLING AS HEALTH ISSUE

U.K. healthcare professionals need to treat problem gambling as a health issue, says a British researcher. The health and social costs of problem gambling are large on both an individual and societal level and can include extreme moodiness, depression, absenteeism from work, family neglect and bankruptcy, writes Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University. Pathological gambling is a hidden addiction, because primary care physicians may ask patients about smoking and drinking but gambling is not generally discussed, according to Griffiths. "Gambling is without doubt a health issue and there is an urgent need to enhance awareness within the medical and health professions about gambling-related problems and to develop effective strategies to prevent and treat problem gambling, Grittiths writes in the British Medical Journal.

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FALLS OFTEN LEAD TO DISABILITY

Illnesses and injuries resulting in hospitalization are key sources of disability for older persons, regardless of physical frailty, finds a U.S. study. "The risk of developing disability within a month of hospitalization was elevated more than 60-fold, while the risk of developing disability within a month of restricted activity was elevated nearly six-fold," writes study leader Dr. Thomas M. Gill of the Yale University School of Medicine. "Falls and fall-related injuries conferred the highest risk of disability." Gill writes in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the inability of seniors to perform essential activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and walking across a room is common, potentially deadly and costly. Preventing the development of disability is an important goal in older adults, but relatively little is known about the disabling process.

STRESSED WOMEN SUFFER MORE

Women who faced work stress were more vulnerable to anxiety and increased alcohol consumption following the Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. terrorist attacks. "The term I use is 'cumulative adversity,'" says lead author Judith Richman at University of Illinois at Chicago. Feelings of powerlessness and victimization on a massive scale in this one apocalyptic moment were compounded by the feelings of powerlessness generated by the daily experiences of interpersonal victimization, according to Richman. In the study, published in American Journal of Public Health, Richman defined workplace stress as: a lack of decision-making authority on the job, sexual harassment, and generalized workplace abuse, such as disrespectful behavior and isolation or exclusion.

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(EDITORS: For MRSA, contact Jessica Larson Martin (617) 636-2780 or cid@press.uchicago.ed. For GAMBLING, Emma Dickinson at 44-207-383-6529 or edickinson@bmj.com. For DISABILITY, Karen N. Peart at (203) 432-1326 or karen.peart@yale.edu. For STRESSED, Sharon Butler at (312) 355-2522 or sbutler@uic.edu.)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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