Staph - Staphylococcus

The most common infection that frequently affects about 25% of people is the “staph” infection, namely the infection caused by a group of bacteria called Staphylococcus (from the Greek words staphyle, meaning a bunch of grapes, and kokkos, meaning berry). From all the types of Staphylococci that can cause diseases to humans, the most recurrent infecting agent is Staphyloccocus aureus. This bacteria usually finds shelter on the skin or in the nose, mouth, genitals, and anal zone of 25%-30% of healthy adults.

 

The gravity of the infection varies from a simple furuncle or a mild illness, requiring no treatment, to a flesh eating, possibly fatal infection. The damage depends on the power of the organism to fight against the bacteria. The persons with weakened immunity, newborn infants, breastfeeding women, chronic patients, such as diabetics, injecting drug users, those with intravenous catheters or surgical cuts are more susceptible to get a “staph” infection.

There are many types of staph infections, one of them is the well-known cellulites which affects the skin’s deeper layers. The Staph can produce to the breastfeeding women an abscess or an inflammation of the breast called mastitis. The symptoms of the Staphylococcal disease of the skin consist in a localized agglomeration of pus, known as abscess, boil or furuncle. These pimples may be or become red, inflamed and hurtful. If the Staph spreads in the blood, the disease is called bacteremia or sepsis. The symptoms of sepsis are high fevers, chills, low blood pressure. Impetigo (a crusting of the skin), Staphylococcal pneumonia, endocarditic (infection of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (severe inflammation of the bones), food poisoning (an ilness of the bowels caused by eating food contamineted with Staphylococcal toxins) and toxic shock syndrome are all examples of diseases that may be provoked by Staphylococcus.

In case the infection is affecting the muscles or the fibers that enclose muscles, the treatment consists in the surgical drainage of the injured areas. Sometimes the Staphylococcus develops resistance to antibiotics, especially because of the overuse of antimicrobial pills – a practice commonly found in North America. We use today more and more powerful antibiotics to overcome this infection treated long ago with the familiar penicillin. As The resistance of the bacteria is still increasing and even the treatment with stronger antibiotics fails in about 50% of situations, doctors are constrained to use more potent antibiotics. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the term used to describe a type of Staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin and other drugs in same class, including penicillin, amoxicillin, and oxacillin.

There are ways to prevent the staph infection – the fight against the bacteria starts with the simple gesture of washing with sope and water a cut or skin breakdown, cleansing it with antiseptic unguents, then keeping it clean, dry and covered. Avoid to share towels or other objects which might be contaminated, wear foot coverings in locker rooms and other commonlly used places. In case a bruise comes to be unusually red or hurtful, or red lines appear, ask for medical opinion right away. Actually there is no vaccine against Staphyloccocus aureus, we can only reduce the risk of infection by a proper hygiene. And careful attention to food-handling and food-preparation practices.

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