Game Plan For Staying Away From Flu

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

ATLANTA, Ga. — The 2018 flu season has been one of the worst in history, according to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC).

In February, 49 states have had widespread outbreaks of the flu with 53 children dying. The CDC has projected that approximately 710,000 people across the USA will be hospitalized.

The flu epidemic is tracking the same as the 2014-15 season as the CDC estimated that 34 million were infected during that time span.

Baseball players routinely come down with the flu each spring.

The standard practice for coaches has always been to isolate those players from the rest of the team so germs aren’t spread. More often than not, they are sent home.

All too often entire teams come down with the flu or some other ailment.

Here is what Collegiate Baseball has found that may be helpful in having a game plan to keep players and coaches healthy during the baseball season.

Influenza viruses are spread from person to person primarily when an infected person coughs or sneezes near a susceptible person.

According to the CDC, transmission via large-particle droplets requires close contact between the source and recipient.

Airborne transmission (via small particle residue of evaporated droplets) might remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and typically can travel up to 20 feet.

The typical incubation period for influenza is 1-4 days.

The CDC reports that most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick.

Because of the number of players who handle the same baseballs and bats during any given practice, these two products are prime spots for influenza germs.

Sterilizing Equipment
Weight training facilities are a breeding ground for bacteria. Athletes are encouraged to wipe down equipment with sanitizing wipes to prevent the spread of germs and especially MRSA.

This bacterium is tougher to treat than most strains or staph because it is resistant to some commonly used antibiotics.

If it is important to disinfect equipment such as this, why hasn’t baseball embraced sterilization treatments of bats and possibly balls that can be teeming with bacteria?

Dr. Herb McReynolds, Medical Director of Emergency Services at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson, Ariz., has been a physician for 40 years.

He played baseball for 40 years in his off time until he stopped a few years ago and said certain procedures can be utilized in baseball to stem the tide of influenza and other germs.

“At a hospital, doctors are expected to use sanitizing gel on their hands before going into a room and then once again when they come out,” said McReynolds.

“Why not do the same on baseball fields or hitting facilities? You could have a Purell Hand Sanitizer Dispenser near the dugout or by the door of each batting cage in a hitting facility. As players come in, they are asked to sanitize their hands. Once practice is over, they can sanitize their hands as they leave.

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have players own their own bat which aren’t touched by other players. Common bats used by multiple players can be wiped down in the handle areas with Chlorox-based wipes prior to practice and after practice and even between hitters during an epidemic.

“Players who are obviously sick should be sent home so they don’t spread germs.

McReynolds said players who are at practice and coughing and sneezing could have the flu or some other influenza like virus, which has also been at epidemic proportions this winter.

“What you don’t want a player to do is cough or wipe his nose in his hand. Instead, coaches should ask players to cough or sneeze into their shirt sleeve and NOT into their hands. Many times people will turn away and cough into their hand. This causes a problem in baseball since the hand will touch baseballs that are utilized by many different players.

“If a hitter coughs or wipes his nose in his hand and grabs a bat, guess what happens? There are now germs all over the place on the bat grip. If someone else uses that bat, they will probably be infected.

“It would be an excellent idea for schools to have hand sanitizers in restrooms. Knobs of doors should be disinfected regularly since many people touch them along with faucets.

“Many viruses can live up to 24 hours on a door handle.

“One more piece of advice I would give is to get a flu shot in the fall prior to the flu season. It takes two weeks for the antibodies to work properly. You can still get a flu shot now. But during that 2-week period, you will be susceptible to the flu.”

To read more of this article, purchase the Feb., 23, 2018 edition or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. It explains how you can sanitize baseballs with special light that hospitals utilize, why sharing water bottles by athletes is dangerous and how a baseball player died in 2005 because of bacterial meningitis. In addition, the article explains the dangers of sharing batting helmets and why proper rest is vital.