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Tony Dejak/AP
Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen
Winslow

Winslow is Latest Cleveland Brown to Contract Staph Infection

October 20, 2008 03:28 PM
by Denis Cummings
Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow revealed Sunday that he had a staph infection, his second in three years and the team’s seventh in four years.

Winslow Contracts Staph Infection

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Winslow contracted a “mysterious illness” two weeks ago, requiring a three-day stay in the Cleveland Clinic. On Sunday, after the second game that Winslow has missed, he told (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reporter Mary Kay Cabot that he had a staph infection.

It is the second time that Winslow has contracted staph during his time with the Browns, though it is less serious than the previous case. Five other Browns have also contracted staph in the last four years: LeCharles Bentley, Joe Jurevicius, Braylon Edwards, Brian Russell and Ben Taylor. Bentley’s career is likely over due to the infection and Jurevicius might miss this season.

The first six instances of staph occurred soon after the players underwent surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. Winslow had not been in the Clinic before the infection, leading Winslow to suspect that he contracted the infection at the Browns’ training facility in Berea.

“They didn’t even want me going to the Cleveland Browns’ facility because they didn’t want me to get re-infected,” he said. “Something is wrong up there. It needs to be fixed.”

Many of the stories on Winslow have focused on his anger toward Browns general manger Phil Savage, who did not visit or contact Winslow during his recovery. But Winslow is also upset that his teammates were not immediately made aware of his infection.

“Nobody knew that I had staph on the team because the Browns didn’t want it to get out,” he told ESPN. “But it’s my teammates’ right to know what’s going on at the facility to protect them. Their safety is at risk, too, and I didn’t agree with the Cleveland Browns, because they are protecting the organization and not the players.”

Background: Athletes with staph

Several prominent athletes, including NBA player Grant Hill and NFL player Junior Seau, have contracted a staph infection following surgery. Six Cleveland Browns developed a staff infection after surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, though hospital spokeswoman Eileen Sheil claimed, “we don’t believe it was related to the surgery.”

One of the players, LeCharles Bentley, may never play again. He contracted an infection following a July 2006 surgery on his patella tendon and has needed three additional surgeries since. A second player, Joe Jurevicius, got an infection after knee surgery last spring; he has yet to return and might soon be placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

A player does not need to have surgery, however, to contract staph. A drug-resistant strain of staph, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), made its way out of hospitals and into society several years ago. MRSA has become a problem for athletes, as it spreads easily in confined and often unsanitary locker rooms.

“It can come off our skin and onto items—such as towels that are shared on the sidelines,” said Jeff Hageman, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “So if someone has an infection, picks up a towel, the next person wipes their face with the same towel, that’s a potential route of transmission as well.”

This past week, UNC Asheville basketball player Kenny George reportedly had part of his right foot amputated because of a staph infection. The 7-foot-7 George contracted a life-threatening infection this summer and had several surgeries before the decision to amputate was made.

Reference: Staph infections

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