Staphylococcus

"The Golden Staph"

What is Staphylococcus?

Staphylococcus aureus (staph infection) is a group of bacteria that cause several diseases such as boils, impetigo, food poisoning, cellulitis, and toxic shock syndrome.

Symptoms & Signs

  • Skin Infections: Infections such as boils, cellulitis, and impetigo are all signs of staph infections.
  • Food Poisoning: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration may be signs of food poisoning caused by staphylococcus.
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome: TSS is a life-threatening condition and usually develops with a high fever, nausea, confusion, aches, and muscle weakness.
  • Bacteremia: Bacteremia occurs when staphylococcus enters the bloodstream and affects internal organs, bones, muscles, and even surgically implanted devices.

Foods linked to Staphylococcus

Staph in the Tanning Bed

Several months ago, a college girl from Illinois was invited to go tanning with her friend. With a family wedding coming up, she eagerly agreed. After a 7 minute tanning session, she replaced her clothes and went on with her day. About a week later, she noticed a blemish on her thigh while folding her clothes. Thinking nothing of it, she attempted to pop it and moved on. Several days later, however, the cist was still there. It had gotten larger and started to take on a slightly purple hue. She checked herself into her local hospital and told the doctor she thought she may have an infected blemish or ingrown hair. Upon discovering that it was a staph infection, her mind automatically flew to horror stories of burned skin and lost limbs. Luckily, the doctors were able to remove the blemish and stop the infection from spreading. Even so, it is important to keep an eye on your skin and be very careful when in contact with public domain such as tanning beds.

FUN FACTS (not very fun)

  • 43% of all skin infections in the U.S. are caused by a strain of Staphylococcus.
  • From 2002-2004, the percentage of people carrying S. Aureus asymptomatically dropped from 34% to 28%.
  • Over 3 million cases of staph infection are recorded in the U.S. each year.

Staph is mainly treated with antibiotics and wound drainage. If an internal device is infected, it may need to be removed.

Prevention Tips & Tricks

  • Scrub-a-Dub-Dub: This one is pretty obvious and fairly first-grade...wash your hands, people!
  • Cover it Up: Cover any wounds with clean bandages in order to prevent the spread of bacteria and infection.
  • Sharing isn't Always Caring: Try to keep your personal items personal. Things like blankets, sheets, razors, and even clothing can spread a staph infection just as easily as skin-on-skin contact.
  • Do the Laundry: Staphylococcus bacteria can be spread through clothing and bedding if it is not properly washed in hot water and bleach, when possible.
  • Keep Your Eyes Open: Pay attention to your body and don't be afraid to get any blemishes or irregularities checked out by a doctor.