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Ex-football player sues Iona over staph infection

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A former college football player has
sued Iona College over an antibiotic-resistant staph infection he
says nearly cost him his leg two years ago.


Nick Zaffarese accused team trainers of initially brushing off
his burgeoning methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or
MRSA, infection in September 2005. He also called the team's locker
room an unsanitary environment in which players shared towels and
equipment.


Iona spokeswoman Cecilia Donohoe declined to comment on
Zaffarese's lawsuit, filed this week in state Supreme Court in
Westchester County. She said the New Rochelle college has a policy
of refraining from discussing pending lawsuits.


But Donohoe called the college's athletic and other facilities
immaculate.


"Our leadership does not tolerate unsanitary or unclean
conditions," she said in an e-mailed statement.


The college recently disinfected a weight room and went over
hygiene advice after 10 members of an athletic team were diagnosed
with MRSA in September. The college has declined to identify the
team.


While one student-athlete was hospitalized for a time, those
cases were mild skin irritations, Donohoe said.


Zaffarese, now 23, said his bout with MRSA began with an ingrown
hair on his inner thigh. He told trainers it was painful and
swollen, but they did not advise him to seek medical attention
until he told them it was oozing, according to his lawsuit. In the
interim, he had gone home from a game with a high fever and
collapsed, the lawsuit said.


"I got a call from my son telling me that his leg was black and
he was going to have surgery," said the former player's father,
Tony Zaffarese, of Pompton Plains, N.J. The younger Zaffarese said
he ultimately had seven surgeries on the leg.


The lawsuit seeks more than $250,000 in damages.


A government report last month found that more than 90,000
Americans get potentially deadly staph infections each year. The
bacteria has been blamed in the deaths of a New York City middle
school student and a Virginia high school senior last month.