The doctor’s in the building…Here is a post by our very own doctor and guest blogger. Hope this answers all your questions about Staphylococcus!
Growing up, I had always heard about the dreaded disease- Staphylococcus. Even the name sounded so serious, a life threatening disease I was sure it was. I couldn’t wait to have the lecture on it in school. I figured it was going to be in the league of HIV/AIDS. Then we started having lectures, days became weeks then months, yet none of my lecturers had talked about it yet. Hmm, perhaps they were saving the ‘best’ for the last. Then one day, our microbiology lecturer was talking about bacteria and then he talked about the cocci group of bacteria, finally! I said to myself. Then he mentioned staphylococci, I settled into my seat properly, ready and eager to know all there was about this dreaded disease. To be fair, the lecturer probably spent 30minutes talking about staphylococcus, the laboratory findings, the clinical features and then the treatment and management. I wasn’t satisfied. After all, last week we talked about HIV for about 3 days. Why should this disease get only 30 minutes, wasn’t it serious enough? Considering all the fliers, newspaper adverts, billboards, radio jingles and TV adverts dedicated to this disease by various trado-doctors (herbalists or babalawos) why were the Western doctors not taking the disease seriously? Maybe that’s why we kept losing the trust of our patients. What would uncle R think if I couldn’t cure common staph? What sort of doctor would I be?
Now, I’m usually self-conscious and I don’t like to ask questions in class and all, but seeing that I’d been looking forward to this topic, I was torn, do I get up and ask the lecturer more questions or should I just read about it? While I was still trying to decide, a classmate of mine asked the questions on my mind.
‘Was staph not a sexually transmitted disease, didn’t it cause infertility and why were there no antibiotics that could treat it, why did people need to seek herbal medicine to manage staph?’
So my people, that was how my classmates and I saw through the scam that these native doctors aka babalawos aka tradomedicine aka herbalists aka naturalists run on the average unsuspecting Nigerian. I really don’t know the genesis of how staphylococcus being an STI came about. I don’t even know who taught these guys how to spell the word, seeing as it does take me some time to spell it correctly. All I know is somehow, one day these guys had a meeting and decided that staphylococcus was a big sounding word that would instil fear in their clients and fetch them more money because of the claim that it was life threatening, sexually transmitted and would affect their fertility. You know we Nigerians don’t joke with anything that would affect our fertility, our sex lives or our lives generally.
So ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to dispel a couple of rumours and hopefully I would be able to relieve you of the fears you have and provide you with adequate information about the great staphylococcus bacteria. Don’t get me wrong, staphylococcus infections could be very serious requiring long hospital stays and strong ANTIBIOTICS, IN THE HOSPITAL under the supervision of a MEDICAL DOCTOR.
Here are ten things you didn’t know about staph.
- Staphylococcus is a group of bacteria that can cause a number of diseases as a result of infection of various tissues of the body. They can cause illness can range from mild and requiring no treatment to severe and potentially deadly.
- Staphylococci can be found normally in the nose and on the skin of around 25%-30% of healthy adults and in these people it does not cause disease. Due to this, it is often found as a contaminant in laboratory cultures so a urine, blood, vaginal swab or seminal fluid specimen can yield staph as a contaminant if the specimen is not properly handled or the laboratory work environment is not sterile. This is probably why a lot of labs give results that show patients have ‘staph’.
- Anyone can develop a Staph infection, although certain groups of people are at greater risk, including new born infants, breastfeeding women, and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, IV drug users, those with skin injuries or disorders, intravenous catheters, surgical incisions, and those with a weakened immune system.
- Skin infections are the most common infections that can occur from staphylococcus, this can be as minor as pimples or boils (abscess collection), cellulitis or as fatal as scalded skin syndrome. In this case, it can be transmitted from person to person and is highly contagious. Since pus from infected wounds may contain the bacteria, proper hygiene and hand washing is required when caring for Staph-infected wounds.
- Staphylococcus can also cause mastitis which is a collection of abscess in d breast which makes the breast painful and swollen and is usually seen in breast feeding mothers.
- Staph infection can spread in the blood stream and cause pneumonia (infection in the lungs) or cause endocarditis (infection of the heart valves) or cause osteomyelitis (infection of the bones) or general staphylococcal sepsis which is wide spread infection of the entire blood stream.
- There is also a kind of food poisoning that can be caused by staph. In this cause the symptoms are acute vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration usually develop within one to six hours after eating contaminated food. The illness usually lasts for one to three days and resolves on its own. Patients with this illness are not contagious.
- Toxic shock syndrome is a rare potentially fatal infection caused by toxins from staphylococcus. It is characterized by the sudden onset of high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, and muscle aches, followed by low blood pressure (hypotension), which can lead to shock and death.
- Treatment of staphylococcus is dependent on the kind of illness. Minor skin infections are usually treated with an antibiotic ointment or in some cases, oral antibiotics. If abscesses are present, they are surgically drained. More serious and life-threatening infections are treated with intravenous antibiotics.
- Prevention includes careful hand washing, avoiding close skin contact with possible infected individuals; also careful attention to food-handling and food-preparation practices can decrease the risk of staphylococcal food poisoning.
So there you have it. Everything you need to know about staph. Staphylococcus is NOT a sexually transmitted disease so please stop dashing money to these no-gooders and spread the word!
Please leave a comment if you have any questions and thanks for stopping by at the doctor’s office. x
You can follow our guest blogger on twitter: @deevadoc