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Staph Infection After Surgery

Staph Infection After Surgery

Staph refers to the Staphylococcus bacterium. When there's a break in the skin due to a surgical incision, precautionary measures must be taken to lower the risk of a staph infection after the surgery. This HealthHearty write-up provides information on this infection.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Staph, which stands for Staphylococcus, refers to a genus of gram-positive parasitic bacteria that tend to form irregular colonies. More than 35 species are found in this genus. If a wound in the skin is not treated, it puts one at a risk of developing a staph infection. Staphylococcus is one of the common pathogens that is responsible for causing surgical site infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three types of surgical site infections. These include superficial incisional infection, deep incisional infection, and organ/space incisional infection. In case of a superficial incisional infection, only the area where the incision was made gets affected. In case of a deep incisional infection, the infection occurs beneath the site of incision, and affects the muscle tissue and the fascia. In case of an organ/space incisional infection, the infection affects organs of the body or the space between them. The risk for such infections increases if there's an existing infected wound at the time of the surgery.
Contributing Factors
Staphylococcus bacterium normally lives on the skin. It doesn't cause any harm. However, when there is a cut or wound, or the skin gets punctured, this bacterium could enter the body and multiply. This gives rise to an infection. It commonly causes skin disorders like folliculitis, impetigo, boils, cellulitis, etc. The infection is highly contagious in nature. It spreads through skin-to-skin contact. The infection can spread from one part of the body to another, if one doesn't wash hands after touching the infected wound. Thus, the bacteria could get transmitted to another part of the body through one's hands.
Symptoms
Superficial Incisional Infection
Such an infection could cause the following symptoms:

Pain, tenderness, and soreness at and around the site of the incision
Formation of pus-filled, foul-smelling blisters
Change in the texture of the skin at the site of incision
Affected skin has a higher temperature than the rest of the skin
The situation can get worse, if the infection is left untreated or is resistant to the action of antibiotics. Under such circumstances, it could spread to the deeper tissues and muscles. Care must be taken while cleaning the purulent discharge.
Bacteremia
If the bacteria enter the bloodstream, it gives rise to bacteremia or blood poisoning. Its symptoms include:

Fever
Low blood pressure
The bacteria can travel to other locations, thereby making one susceptible to infections affecting the internal organs, bones, muscles, or devices that are implanted surgically. Joint swelling, pain, and fever are the symptoms of septic arthritis, which occurs when the Staphylococcus bacterium targets the joints. Thus, medical assistance must be immediately sought.
Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxins produced by some strains of staph bacteria could give rise to toxic shock syndrome. This could give rise to the following symptoms:

Fever
Vomiting
Nausea
Confusion
Muscle aches
Diarrhea
Rash on palms and soles
Abdominal pain
On a concluding note, a staph infection that occurs after a surgery can lead to serious complications. Thus, steps must be taken to prevent such an infection. Keeping the surgical site covered and sterilized will prove beneficial. Healthcare workers must take all possible precautions to prevent such an infection. If it does occur, prompt treatment is required to prevent the complications associated with this infection.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.