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Super Bowl XLVII: Full Contact Infectious Disease

Body HorrorsBy Rebecca KrestonFebruary 3, 2013 10:12 PM


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This year, Super Bowl XLVII is held in my hometown of New Orleans sandwiched between two Mardi Gras weekends! Residents of my darling city are calling the resulting three-week party extravaganza "Super Gras" which will certainly have public health implications in the many weeks to come. The city's residents tend to collectively fall ill with respiratory bugs and sinus infections - otherwise known as the "Mardi Gras bug" - following a traditional two-week celebration so it will be interesting to see how Super Gras will treat us this year. Let's hope that the "chunder from Down Under" norovirus will not join us in our festivities!

Last year, I published an article looking at contact sports and skin infections, in particular herpes gladiatorum and MRSA infections among wrestlers, football and rugby players:

Skin infections are the most common injury associated with all sports. All that body bashing and face-to-face smearing in contact sports does wonders for spreading skin or cutaneous infections. A number of these ailments are common to us non-athletic mortals - athlete’s foot, jock rash and ringworm (or tinea corporis). 

Most people rightfully assume that HSV-1 infection is a rather personal, intimate matter: we hear about transmission between a mother and her child, between romancing couples and so on. This makes sense considering that it’s spread by respiratory droplets or direct contact with infected lesions; you’ve really got to get up close and personal in someone’s face if you want to get a sense of what HSV-1 infection feels like. But given social situations with a generous amount of skin-to-skin contact with many individuals - sports, for instance - the virus will happily engage in a bit of unplanned host-hopping. As such, it has a frustrating tendency to erupt into outbreaks in sports team and during competitions.

In the spirit of vainglorious sports rituals, go on and check out Herpes Gladiatorum: Full Contact Infectious Diseases to know just what exactly is going on in the New Orleans' Superdome this year. Play on!

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