SOURCE: CleenFreek SportsHygiene

February 28, 2007 09:15 ET

Nation's Oldest Collegiate Conference Selects CleenFreek to Help Protect Athletes From MRSA Infections

Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Provides Member Schools With CleenFreek® Antimicrobial Towels for Use During Athletic Contests

ST. LOUIS, MO -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 28, 2007 -- CleenFreek SportsHygiene (www.cleenfreek.com) today announced that the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the oldest collegiate conference in America, has provided all of its member schools with CleenFreek antimicrobial sport towels for use during game situations and other shared towel environments.

In what could become a model for leagues around the country, the new program is designed to lessen the risk of the transmission of skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) among conference athletes. The towels are distinctively green, matching one of the conference's logo colors, and are treated to safely store and release antimicrobial particles to prevent bacteria and fungus growth over the life of the towel.

The Centers for Disease Control and the National Athletic Trainers Associations have both identified shared towels as major risk factor in the spread of bacteria, such as MRSA, in team sports, and have issued recommendations that teams avoid this practice. MRSA is a form of staph bacteria that is resistant to most antibiotic treatments, and has become increasingly prevalent in athletic, communal environments.

While not sharing towels sounds good in theory, the practice is far more difficult to prevent as Dr. Kirk Brumels, head athletic trainer at MIAA-member institution Hope College, discovered when asked by team physician Patrick Hulst, M.D. to reduce shared towel usage.

"During a game situation, say during a timeout in a basketball game with the game on the line, athletes grab the nearest towel available," Brumels said. "There simply isn't time for athletes to worry about whose towel belongs to who. It's not something we can control reliably."

Factoring in this reality, Brumels considered such options as moving to disposable towels or attempting to ensure that each towel would only be used once during a game. The first option was ruled out due to the expense. The second option would require the use of about 120 towels per game, and an athletic trainer would need to monitor and replace towels throughout a contest -- not a viable proposition either.

In contrast to these scenarios, the CleenFreek sport towels offered an easy-to-implement and cost-effective way to protect athletes, according to Brumels. Now athletes are still likely to share towels, but the antimicrobial action of CleenFreek sports towels significantly reduces the opportunity for potentially dangerous bacteria to migrate from player to player.

As in most conferences, MIAA gives the responsibility for supplying towels to the home team. To ensure the highest level of protection for all its athletes, whether playing at home or away, the conference decided to purchase and supply towels to all of its member institutions.

"The conference felt appropriate education prevention measures, including the introduction of a conference-sponsored purchase program of CleenFreek antimicrobial towels, was warranted," said MIAA Commissioner David Neilson.

CleenFreek's technology is the result of collaboration with research organizations and manufacturers, including North American Science Associates, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, BioQuest Technologies and more than three years of research and development. Because the active germ-fighting ingredient is built-in, the protection lasts for the life of the product.

"While a large number of teams and institutions have embraced our product individually, the MIAA is the first to see the value of prevention across an entire conference so that student-athletes are protected in all shared towel environments," said Scott Seabaugh, President of CleenFreek SportsHygiene. "We commend the MIAA for its forward-looking view and expect to see many other conferences and athletic associations follow this model."

The MIAA member institutions are Adrian, Albion, Alma, Calvin, Hope, Kalamazoo, Olivet, Saint Mary's and Tri-State. For more information go to: http://www.miaa.org/

About CleenFreek

CleenFreek® SportsHygiene® Performance Equipment addresses needs of athletic trainers and athletes by providing protection and prevention against drug resistant staph infections (MRSA). Patented built-in technology kills and prevents, bacteria, fungus, mold, and mildew growth for the life of the equipment. CleenFreek SportsHygiene products are currently sold through team sales organizations, and at national retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods, Eastbay, and other sporting goods retailers. They can also be purchased from CleenFreek's website. CleenFreek is a corporate partner and financial contributor to the MRSA Awareness Foundation www.mrsaawareness.com; helping increase awareness and education of MRSA in sports and athletics. To learn more about CleenFreek, visit www.cleenfreek.com or call (800) 591-3585.

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