Local dentist's experience has him motivated to prevent MRSA - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Local dentist's experience has him motivated to prevent MRSA


Eau Claire (WQOW)- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are sanitizing their facility this week after two players contracted a serious staph infection called MRSA.  A dentist in Fall Creek has seen what MRSA can do and has made it his mission to prevent it.

Dr. Tony Pilgrim's son Matt was diagnosed with the infection about five years ago after suffering cuts on his elbows from playing hockey.

"He ended up contracting MRSA from his elbow pads and he almost lost both of his arms because of that infection," Pilgrim remembers.  "It was very hard to get under control and his forearms swelled up to the size of footballs.  His hands swelled up so much that he couldn't even make a fist with them."

His son's body didn't respond to antibiotics at first, but luckily, it did the second time around and Matt returned to playing the sport he loved.  The next year, the family took a trip to Connecticut for one of Matt's tournaments.

"We went out there and as we walked into the rink, this machine was sitting to the side and it said kills MRSA," Pilgrim points out.  "And I thought, wow, what a great idea.  Where has this been?  Where was this a year ago?"

So Pilgrim bought his own machine for $15,000 and put it in his garage. 

"We load the gear in, put it on the shelves and then I close the doors, plug the machine in and what it does is over 16 minutes, it converts oxygen into ozone; circulates the ozone all around and through the gear," explains Pilgrim.  "It converts that ozone back to oxygen and then the gear is ready to use as soon as the doors are open."

The machine not only sanitizes sports equipment, but it makes that smelly gear smell like roses.

"Hockey is the worst because when you are done sweating, your hockey gear is taken off, put in a bag, zipped up and it is left in the bag," Pilgrim says.  "That is prime breeding ground for MRSA or any bacteria to multiply."

Pilgrim isn't the only one with a machine like this.  27 NHL teams and 15 NFL teams have them for their players; including the Green Bay Packers.

"Something needs to be done about the stink," Pilgrim responds.  "You need to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to MRSA."

The Fall Creek School District has been using the machine to sanitize its football equipment, along with the YMCA.  The average cleaning costs about $35. 

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