National Football League player Daniel Fells may be on the verge of losing his foot after being diagnosed with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The 32-year-old New York Giants player is said to have acquired the infection after receiving a cortisone injectable in September 2015 following an ankle and toe injury.

On Oct. 2, Fells went to the emergency department with a chief complaint of fever that reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The doctors subsequently found that he had developed MRSA in his ankle.

Fells has since been admitted to the intensive care unit and had undergone five surgical operations to combat the infection. The possibility of the bacteria penetrating the bone and bloodstream of Fells has cropped up, leading to the idea that the athlete might need to have his foot amputated.

Despite the diagnosis, experts are left baffled as to the details of Fells' acquisition of the infection. For one thing, the rates of the so-called superbug has been declining in the United States. Aside from that, it is unlikely that an active 6-foot-4-inch, 260-pound athlete could acquire the bacteria to such a great extent that amputation is warranted.

"In a healthy young athlete, to have an amputation from MRSA is extremely unusual," said Dr. Aaron Glatt, infectious disease doctor at the South Nassau Communities Hospital in New York and a spokesman from the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He added that individuals who commonly acquire severe infections are those who are too old, hospitalized frequently or are diagnosed with chronic conditions such as diabetes.

On Sunday, Oct. 11, the Giants played against the San Francisco 49ers, dedicating it to Fells. The following day, the team presented Fells with a game ball via Skype during the morning meeting.

Prior to the game, Fells wished his team good luck via Twitter. The Giants members and coach, Tom Coughlin, have visited him in the hospital.

Coughlin was positive about his player's recovery. He said he was informed that Fells' condition was improving and that he had already exhibited consistent improvement after the bacteria spread to his leg bone.

MRSA is a bacterial strain that has grown to be resistant to a number of typical antibiotics. It is usually characterized by a skin infection and is managed by incising the abscess or administering other antibiotics. However, it may cause serious illness if the bacteria has reached the bones, deep tissues or blood, said infectious specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh from the Mayo Clinic.

"Very few of these cases turn into these very serious limb- or life-threatening infections," Tosh explained. "But when they do, it's very debilitating." 

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