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Happaugue High carefully cleans mats to avoid MRSA

March 21, 2011 2:31:00 PM PDT
A high school on Long Island is taking new, and somewhat expensive, steps to keep its athletes healthy.

They are using high-tech equipment to kill germs from MRSA, a highly contagious illness.

With the new machine, it looks like Chris Messina is mowing an imaginary lawn, but the contraption is actually using ultraviolet lights to kill germs.

It's a task the Hauppauge High School's wrestling coach has never taken more seriously.

"In 32 years I've never ever experienced anything that was this scary or even remotely near to this," he said.

Last month, a member of his team almost died. Nick Mauriello was attacked at a wrestling meet by the so called superbug MRSA.

"He almost died, absolutely. In the prime of his life. It went from a little muscle pull to being on a ventilator being in a coma. It was just a terrible terrible experience," adds Messina.

Players of contact sports like wrestling are especially susceptible to bacterial or viral infections.

Over a year ago, the Hauppauge school district invested $2,000 in the device, which they use four times a week. It's just one in a series of germ-killing tools.

Just to walk into the wrestling room you have to step on a mat filled with disinfectant solution. Then there are body wipes all over the place. But even with all these precautions, Nick still got sick.

There are no state guidelines governing cleanliness on the wrestling mat.

Messina says other schools aren't nearly as vigilant has Hauppauge. Mauriello likely caught MRSA at a meet, somewhere else.

The star wrestler beat the bug and he's now out of the hospital and recovering at home.

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