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ON SPORTS: Staph infection puts a scare into Bay City's Burk

By MIKE FORMAN
May 16, 2012 at 12:16 a.m.
Updated May 17, 2012 at 12:17 a.m.

Bay City coach Dan Burk.

MRSA Staph Infection

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that's become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.

Most MRSA infections occur in people who have been in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers. When it occurs in these settings, it's known as health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). HA-MRSA infections typically are associated with invasive procedures or devices, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing or artificial joints.

Source: Mayo Clinic

BAY CITY - Dan Burk knew something was wrong when doctors injected his left hip and said, "Oh oh."

Burk had yet to coach a game at Bay City and he began to wonder if he ever would.

The 54-year-old Burk had been working for a little over a month after being named the school's athletic director and head football coach when he began to experience a sharp pain in his left hip and groin.

Burk initially thought he had pulled a muscle or done something to his back. He visited doctors and a chiropractor and had an MRI, but the pain persisted.

"It finally got to where I couldn't lift my leg, I couldn't walk, I couldn't move," he said. "I couldn't even get in the car without help. It just progressively got worse. I tell everybody the pain level was a 25 on a scale of 1 to 10. It was just horrendous."

Burk went to a doctor in Lake Jackson, who referred him to a neurosurgeon in Sugar Land, who put him in the hospital.

"They knew something was wrong with the hip," Burk said. "They thought it might be a little arthritis or something. The pain was way too severe and they looked and did the blood cell and the white blood cell count was through the roof and all this other stuff was through the roof and they were going to do some kind of hip injection."

Sparing the gruesome details, the doctors discovered Burk had a MRSA staph infection in his hip and groin and made a six-inch incision to clean out the infection during emergency surgery.

"The doctors told me they hadn't seen one that bad once they got in there," Burk said. "It was kind of a mystery how it got there. A lot of times it happens when someone has surgery or a hip replacement. They have no idea how it got in there. I've thought about it a lot, but I don't have any idea how I could have gotten this."

Burk was in the hospital for a week and was on an IV and taking antibiotics during the three weeks he spent at home with his wife, Dana, as his primary caregiver.

"She had to help me do everything," Burk said. "I couldn't even put a shoe on for weeks. She helped me hook up the IV every morning and every night."

Burk's surgery came shortly after he hired Dusty Ortiz of Keller as Bay City's offensive coordinator. But Burk's absence slowed the learning curve for the players.

"It kind of sent me for a loop," said running back Stevie Franklin. "I was thinking it was going to be a little bit better and then he was out for a while so I really didn't know how to react to that. He came back when he could and coach Ortiz talked to him every day and told us he asked about us. I know he was preparing football plays while he was in the hospital bed so I think he was trying to come back as fast as he could."

Burk is still taking antibiotics and it's taken him awhile to get back to full strength as the Blackcats' go through spring drills.

"I couldn't go all day," he said. "It was just like I'd been in a bed or a recliner for a month. I had to build back the energy level. The first week of practice, I was out there limping around. I'm really getting better every day. I'm not at full strength yet, but I'm getting closer every day."

Burk has coached on the college level and been a head coach on the high school level for 11 years.

But he admits the events of the past few months have altered his perspective.

"I think it makes you understand that you're not in charge and anything can happen," he said. "You better take advantage of every day and kind of count your blessings that you get the opportunity to do what you do and enjoy doing it.

"Everything's not quite as serious as you make it sometimes. The things you deal with at work aren't as serious issues as you might think."

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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