Infectious diseases

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16 Lessons

Playing football, and physical activity in general, has an effect on a player’s immune status. This effect is directly related to the amount and intensity of training. This must be considered when developing a team’s training programme. Too much load may compromise immunity and lead to illness.

There are a variety of infectious diseases which commonly occur in a football setting. The vast majority of these a relatively minor and lead to minimal morbidity. The most common examples are fungal and viral skin infections and upper respiratory tract infections. These often do not require any specific treatment. It is also important to recognise that more significant conditions can also occur in football players. Frequent travel and risk-taking behaviours are often common in this group and can increase the risk of illness.

As with other the other topics discussed in this diploma course, prevention is a very important consideration. Simple strategies are highly effective at reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Hand washing is an important strategy (which is frequently forgotten). Managing bleeding wounds, and blood in general, having a policy for common infections and planning appropriately for travel can all reduce the risk of spread.

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this topic you should:

  • have an understanding of the effects of football, and physical activity in general, on a player’s immune status;
  • understand how common infectious diseases may be prevented;
  • be able to diagnose and manage common infectious conditions seen in football players;
  • understand the indications for referral for more significant conditions including malaria, blood-borne diseases and sexually transmitted infections;
  • be able to create a protocol for the management of blood-soiled equipment at your team or club;
  • understand the need to consider infectious disease outbreaks as part of the planning for a football tournament.


  • Review the media content and read the provided text
  • Read the “required reading” articles
  • Complete the case-based assessment task

Suggested reading

Brukner and Khan’s
Clinical Sports Medicine, 4th edition
Chapter 56 (pages 1102-1117)


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