Staph infection is caused by a bacteria called staphylococcus. Staph tends to occur in different forms – such as skin infections, food or blood poisoning, toxic shock syndrome, or septic arthritis – with varying degrees of severity. Usually, only very minor skin infections occur. However, if the bacteria enters deeper into your body in places such as your bloodstream, bones, joints, lungs, or heart, the infection can become life-threatening.
What Causes Staph Infection?
The staphylococcus bacteria is what causes staph infection. One can carry this bacteria and never develop staph–in fact, most people do. However, the bacteria is highly transmittable. It can survive high temperatures, drying, and high levels of salt. It can also live for a period of time on commonly shared objects such as pillowcases, gym equipment, and telephones.
If you do develop staph, chances are that it is from the bacteria that you have carried for quite some time or bacteria that was transmitted via others through shared objects.
It is unclear why staph infections develop in some people but not others.
Risk Factors of Staph Infection
Though many carry the bacteria that causes staph and never develop an infection, there are some factors that could increase your risk of developing staph infections. These factors can include:
Underlying health conditions
Certain diseases or conditions can make you more privy to staph infections. These diseases or conditions include diabetes with insulin dependence, weakened immune system, skin damage, cancer (especially when one is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation), HIV/AIDS, respiratory illness, and kidney failure.
Because of how hard staph bacteria are to kill, they are commonly found in most hospitals. As a result, one is at a higher risk of developing staph if they are currently hospitalized or have recently been hospitalized. The risk is even greater if one has been/currently being treated in a hospital due to a weak immune system or burns. Having a surgery that leaves open wounds can also increase the risk of developing staph in a hospital.
As staph can be spread through cuts and abrasions, sports that involve a lot of skin-to-skin contact can allow the bacteria to be spread easily. Additionally, staph tend to thrive in environments like locker rooms with shared towels, uniforms, razors, and/or equipment.
Unsanitary food preparation
If food handlers do not properly wash their hands and follow food-safety regulations, staph can be transferred from their skin to the food they are making.
These are devices that connect to your internal organs — such as medical tubing. With how common staph can be found in hospitals, staph infections from these invasive devices can be even more of a possibility. Patients that receive dialysis, have urinary or intravascular catheters, use feeding tubes, or need breathing intubation need to be extra aware if these treatments are received in a hospital environment. If staph develops as a result of an invasive device, it must be immediately removed.
Featured Image: depositphotos/stockasso