As NFL Player Daniel Fells Contracts MRSA, a Look at How Serious Staph Infections Work

Daniel Fells, tight end for the New York Giants, on the field in 2011. (Photo: Getty Images) 

New York Giants tight end Daniel Fells has been hospitalized since early October due to a persistent Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection.

Fells, 32, was moved to the intensive care unit on Friday, NFL.com reports. He has had five surgeries to try to save his foot, which is at risk due to his infection.

Fells reportedly developed the infection after he had a toe injury, followed by an ankle injury. He was given a cortisone shot to treat it and, after a week of having ankle and foot pain, was taken to the ER with a 104-degree fever.

Daniel Fells in January 2015. (Photo: Getty Images)

“This is a serious situation that has been taken seriously from the beginning,” Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon told NFL.com. “We’re all fighting for Daniel.”

But what is MRSA, exactly? And why is it so concerning?

MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that has become resistant to many forms of antibiotics.

“It’s become increasingly common over the last decade,” board-certified infectious disease specialist Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, tells Yahoo Health. “I can’t count how many MRSA infections I see. It’s not something that’s rare to a hospital-based physician or nurse.”

It’s also not rare to NFL teams. 

The Washington Redskins had five players develop MRSA in 2006, believed to be transmitted in the team’s locker room (it underwent a major renovation as a result that cost nearly $80,000, CBS reports). The St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have had documented cases.

While MRSA infections have leveled off in the last few years following a rapid increase from the 1960s to mid-2000s, they have the potential to turn deadly — and do. According to a paper published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, MRSA infections now kill more…

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