Staphylococcus aureus infection is caused by bacteria that is a part of the normal flora of the nasal membranes, skin, hair follicles, etc., of warm-blooded animals. The following article provides information about the various causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for this condition.
Staphylococcus aureus is a Gram-positive bacterium. Under the microscope, you may view these spherical bacteria in clusters resembling a bunch of grapes. The bacterium is a common inhabitant of the nose lining as well as skin of normal, healthy humans. There are two types of staphylococci described by Rosenbach in 1884.
The first type is the Staphylococcus aureus that produces yellow colonies, and the second is Staphylococcus albus, which produces white colonies on growth culture. Of the 32 species of Staphylococcus mentioned in the Bergey’s Manual of classification of bacteria (2001), only these two species are known to cause significant infections in humans. S. albus has been renamed as S. epidermidis.
S. aureus is the most infectious of all types of Staphylococci. It is present as a normal flora on the skin, nose, and perineum of about 25 to 30% healthy individuals. It normally does not cause any infection, however, the causes include damage or injury to skin that allows these organisms to gain entry into the body. Once the protective barrier of the skin is breached, they cause infections. Newborn infants, people with diabetes, cancer, lung diseases, vascular disease, and breast-feeding women are at risk of developing this infection.
Those who need to inject drugs into their bodies for medical reasons or substance abusers are also at risk of developing these infections. Skin injury, skin disorders, intravenous catheters, surgical incisions, etc., also put one at the risk of Staph infection. A weak immune system is the main cause of contracting this infection. Those who are affected by mucosal damage due to a viral infection, may also develop the infection. The organism gains entry into the underlying tissues and bloodstream, causing infection.
MSRA Infections Causes
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is a strain of bacterium that has undergone mutation which has made it resistant to antibiotics like penicillin and other antibiotics of the penicillin family. The mercer staph infection is mostly seen in patients who are hospitalized for a long time. This type of infection is called hospital acquired MSRA infections.
Some people may also acquire this infection through coming in contact with the organism in locker rooms, schools, gyms, etc. This type of infection is called community acquired MSRA infection. This is a very serious complication as the organism is resistant to most of the drugs. The infection may turn deadly, if not controlled in the early stages.
S. aureus infection usually occurs as a skin condition. Swelling, redness, pain around the cut, or injury are the first symptoms of this condition. The infection may form a skin abscess, that is a pocket of infection at the injury site. The abscess is full of pus and turns red. It is usually very painful and feels warm to touch.
Another symptoms is cellulitis, in which the infection occurs in the inner layers of skin. A cut, scrape or simple injury leads to cellulitis. It may develop anywhere on the body, but it is mostly seen on the arms and legs. The symptoms of this condition include redness, pain, and swelling at the infection site.
Major infection may lead to many life-threatening complications. These complications include pneumonia, surgical wound infection, blood infection (bacteremia), etc. The symptoms of this condition are:
- Skin rash
- Shortness of breath
- Tender or swollen lymph nodes
- Chest pain
- Muscle pain
- Pimple or boils on face or the spine
The treatment generally includes draining the abscess from the site of wound. Antibiotics are used to treat a this infection. Serious cases may be treated using intravenous antibiotics. Vancomycin, Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, linezolid, etc., are some of the antibiotics used for this infection. One should keep the area of infection clean and dry, and use warm compress to cure it.
This infection is contagious, but, one may try some prevention steps to avoid this condition. Certain simple steps that may prevent this condition are:
- If one gets a cut or scrape, clean it with an antibiotic solution and keep the injury clean.
- Wash your hands often; as this infection spreads through contact like a hand shake.
- Use clean lines, towels, clothes, etc., to avoid spread of infection.
- Avoid sharing your personal items like towels, handkerchief, combs, brushes, sports equipment, etc., with others.
- Follow a balanced diet consisting of fresh vegetables, fruits, etc., to keep your immune system strong.
Staphylococci are known to cause impetigo, mastitis, endocarditis, osteomyelitis, sepsis, food poisoning, and many other serious infections. Thus, proper hygiene and hand washing may help prevent these infections.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.