Staph Infection (Staphylococcus): What Is It, Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Pictures, Contagious?

Staphylococci are bacteria that cause infections and diseases. One of the most common is Staphylococcus aureus. Very infectious, it is extremely difficult to treat. Gentside explains everything you need to know about this bacteria.

Staph Infection (Staphylococcus): What Is It, Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Pictures, Contagious?
Staph Infection (Staphylococcus): What Is It, Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Pictures, Contagious?

What Is A Staph?

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Staphylococci are a type of bacteria that cause many diseases. There are some forty species of staphylococci, the most common being staphylococcus aureus. It is one of the leading causes of infections contracted within hospitals. Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus saprophyticus are two other common types.

Contrary to what one might think, healthy people can have a staph. It is estimated that 3 out of 10 people have healthy bacteria. It is usually benign but can cause serious complications in the bones, lungs or heart. Staphylococcus is found in the environment (water, soil, air, food, objects) but also on the skin and mucous membranes. The bacterium usually colonizes the nose first before spreading to other parts of the body via the hands, especially wet areas such as armpits and genital areas.

Symptoms Of Staph Infection

Staphylococcus bacteria can cause different types of infections. The symptoms are therefore different depending on the case.

In the context of a skin infection, such as boils, folliculitis or impetigo, the skin becomes red, swollen and painful. Spots filled with pus appear on the groin, buttocks or under the arms.

In cases of food poisoning, the patient experiences abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea.

In the most severe cases, the bacteria enter the bloodstream and proliferate there. This is called sepsis, or blood infection. This causes high fever, headaches, muscle aches and sometimes a life-threatening toxic shock.

How Are Staphylococcus Bacteria Transmitted?

There are several modes of transmission of staphylococcus bacteria. Extremely resistant, they can be transmitted from one individual to another, especially in case of skin infection, but also from objects contaminated by the bacteria such as towels, pillowcases or telephones. Contagion can also occur through ingestion of food in which the bacteria proliferate and release toxins.

How Is Staph Infection Treated?

One must be vigilant to prevent the appearance of staphylococcus because once infected, it is very complicated to get rid of it. For this it is important to wash your hands regularly, especially in the hospital environment.

The treatment against staphylococci is based on the performance of an antibiogram which allows to determine the type of the bacterium responsible for the infection and to choose the best antibiotic response. Antibiotic treatment is taken orally for 7 to 10 days. In the case of staphylococcus aureus, penicillin M (methicillin, oxacillin) is used. Skin infections can be treated most often with good local hygiene and taking antiseptics and local antibiotics.

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