The Giants scrubbed down their locker room, meeting areas and training rooms out of an abundance of caution this week after tight end Daniel Fells was diagnosed with MRSA, a potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant staph infection that can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact or sharing towels, the team confirmed Tuesday.
Fells, a 32-year-old tight end signed by the Giants last year after stints with half a dozen NFL teams, including the Patriots, was placed on injured reserve Monday with an ankle injury. Doctors treating him for that issue discovered the staph infection, which turned out to be MRSA.
MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is notoriously difficult to treat because it has become resistant to many antibiotics traditionally used to treat staph infections.
While one type of MRSA occurs primarily in hospitalized populations, another form occurs in healthy people -- and can spread easily through cuts and abrasions, skin-to-skin contact and sharing facilities or certain equipment.
The infection may become life-threatening, causing complications in one's bloodstream, lungs, heart, bones and joints. It is diagnosed by checking a tissue sample or nasal secretions for signs of drug-resistant bacteria.
In a statement Tuesday, Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said, "We are working with infectious disease specialists, and we have defined protocols that we are following in consultation with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network and local infectious disease specialists. Those protocols are being followed carefully."
Fells caught just six balls for 60 yards in two active games for Big Blue this season. His condition Tuesday wasn't immediately known; he had been hospitalized Monday, though it wasn't clear if he had been discharged.
Though the Jets and Giants share a home stadium, they use different practice facilities and locker rooms so Gang Green wasn't expected to be affected by Fells' diagnosis.
Two years ago, three players with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers contracted MRSA during an outbreak at one of the team's training facilities. One of the players, Carl Nicks, a high-profile guard in the league, had to permanently step away from football because of the illness. The infection also ended the career of Lawrence Tynes, a former Giants kicker who was diagnosed with MRSA during his tenure with the Bucs. The third player affected recovered and remains with the team.