Staphylococcus is a Gram-positive, round-shaped bacterium, and it is a member of the normal flora of the body, frequently found in the nose, respiratory tract, and on the skin (and less commonly in other locations) of around 25%-30% of healthy adults and in 25% of hospital or medical workers.
staphylococcus aureus is the most dangerous of all of the many common staphylococcal bacteria. This bacteria often cause skin infections but can cause pneumonia, heart valve infections, and bone infections.
Over 30 different types of staphylococci can infect humans, but most infections are caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Staph infections may cause disease due to direct infection or due to the production of toxins by the bacteria. Boils, impetigo, food poisoning , cellulitis, and toxic shock syndrome are all examples of diseases that can be caused by Staphylococcus.
What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Staph Infection?
Staph bacteria are able to survive drying, extremes of temperature, stomach acid, high levels of salt. Many people carry staph bacteria and never develop staph infections. However, if you develop a staph infection, there’s a good chance that it’s from bacteria you’ve been carrying around for some time. These bacteria can also be transmitted from person to person and because staph bacteria are so hardy, they can live on inanimate objects such as pillowcases or towels long enough to transfer to the next person who touches them.
A variety of factors including the status of your immune system to the types of sports you play can increase your risk of developing staph infections. Anyone can develop a staph infection, although certain groups of people are at greater risk, including newborn infants, breastfeeding women, and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, vascular disease, and lung disease. Injecting drug users, those with skin injuries or disorders, intravenous catheters, surgical incisions, and those with a weakened immune system due either to disease or a result of immune suppressing medications all have an increased risk of developing staph infections.
How Can I Detect the Signs and Symptoms of Staph Infection?
Common symptoms include boils and oozing blisters. Staph infection can also cause food poisoning resulting in nausea, vomiting and stomach ache. In rare cases, staph infections can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into the body or enters the bloodstream resulting in fever, joint and muscle pain.
People infected with staph may experience:
- Pain areas: in the abdomen or skin.
- Skin: blister, boil, impetigo, rashes, or redness.
- Gastrointestinal: diarrhoea, nausea, or vomiting.
- Whole body: chills or fever.
- Also common: abscess, pus, or swelling
How Staph Infection is Diagnosed
To diagnose a staph infection, your doctor will Perform a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor will closely examine any skin lesions you may have. He may also collect a sample for testing. Most often, doctors diagnose staph infections by checking a tissue sample or nasal secretions for signs of the bacteria.
Collection of specimens depends on the area of the body affected. For example, those with a skin infections or throat, nostrils and wound infections need to be swabbed for pus and other discharge with the bacteria. Swabs consist of a sterile absorbent cotton tipped sticks. Those with a urinary tract infection need to provide a urine samples in sterile containers and those with a generalized blood infection need to provide blood samples. Blood samples are then transferred to a blood culture bottle for a blood culture and sensitivity test.
Treatment of a staph infection may include antibiotics.Your doctor may perform tests to identify of the staph bacteria behind your infection, and to help choose the antibiotic that will work best. Antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat staph infections include certain cephalosporins, nafcillin or related antibiotics, sulfa drugs, or vancomycin. Vancomycin increasingly is required to treat serious staph infections because so many strains of staph bacteria have become resistant to other traditional medicines. But vancomycin and some other antibiotics have to be given intravenously.
- Crowding : Schools, day cares, military camps, prisons etc. are especially susceptible to spread and transmission of S. aureus infections. All staff and students should report minor or major skin and other infections to prevent spread. Those handling food should be especially careful.
- Contact: Skin-to-skin contact with an infected person may be prevented using numerous measures. These include wearing gloves, face masks etc. Community lockers, showers etc. need to be regularly cleaned to avoid contamination.
- Compromised skin (cuts or abrasions): Susceptible individuals should avoid cosmetic shaving of legs and arms to prevent minor cuts and abrasions. Small wounds such as scrapes, abrasions, scratches, and any break in skin should be immediately attended to and cleaned. Adequate bandages should be used to keep wounds clean, dry and covered.
- Contaminated items and surfaces: Personal items such as clothes, towels, uniforms, equipment, razors should not be shared.
- Poor hygene: Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer should be used. Alcohol has proven to be an effective topical sanitizer against MRSA. Regular showers and washing towels and clothes are important.