Posted Sept. 5, 2008 – Grant Hill, one of the best all-around players in the NBA, thought he was going to die four years ago, when, four days after ankle surgery his temperature spiked and he was rushed to the hospital.
“When they took off my cast, my insides had opened up. I had a hole in my ankle, “ says the Phoenix Suns shooting guard. That was when Hill found out that, while in the hospital for his surgery, he had contracted MRSA.
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“It was scary,” he tells BET.com. “When I discovered that I had that, I didn’t quite know what it was. As I read articles about it. I found out that it’s very scary and very serious. It’s deadly. It was one of those things that made me respect and understand a whole lot better what MRSA is and made me realize how serious it was. It’s alarming that people are getting it, not just in hospitals. Now it’s everywhere."
MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) is a potentially life-threatening antibiotic resistant staph infection that is becoming increasingly common in locker rooms, gyms and schools.
“That’s what’s scary about it,” he says. “You could go through what I went through and almost die just form going to a health club.”
Hill got a course of strong antibiotics and a skin graph and survived the disease.
Now Hill is part of a group of people who’ve experienced MRSA first-hand and launched the STOP MRSA Now campaign to help others understand more about the infection. Now that school is in back in session, the coalition wants to warn young athletes, exercise enthusiasts and others to be careful because MRSA is on the rise.
The so-called flesh-eating infection affects more than 94,000 Americans every year, and in 2005 it caused 19,000 deaths – more than the number of people who died from AIDS, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To avoid the disease, the CDC recommends:
“It takes easy steps, like washing your hands as often as you can with soap and water” Hill says. “You should not share your towel, and you should keep a towel between you and any shared equipment at a gym to make sure your skin is not exposed to potentially infected areas. It really takes being careful and focused on keeping things clean around you.”
You should also make sure to wipe down potentially infectious surfaces with a bleach solution.
For more tips on how to protect yourself go to StopMRSANow.org.