Infectious Diseases and MRSA
Infectious diseases are caused by agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or single-celled or multicellular parasites. By definition, infectious diseases are contagious from one person to another when the causative agent of the disease moves from one host to another. Infectious diseases can also be transmitted in other ways than direct human contact, such as through the bites of animals and insects, through airborne respiratory droplets, through food or water and through touching inanimate objects, called fomites. The most common symptom of most infectious diseases is a fever due to the immune response to a pathogen, although symptoms of an infection can vary from case to case. Other common non-specific symptoms of an infection include muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. Mild cases can usually be treated at home with appropriate medication; moderate and serious infections usually require hospitalization and intensive medical care.
Staph Infections and MRSA
Staph infections are caused by a type of bacterium called Staphylococcus. Staphylococcus aureus is the species that is responsible for most infection cases, but several other species of the genus Staphylococcus can cause infections. Staphylococcus bacteria can be found on some healthy people without any signs of infection, most commonly in the area of the nose. Most types of Staph infections can be cleared up with basic antibiotics, but some Staphylococcus aureus bacteria have become resistant to a certain class of antibiotics called beta-lactams. These antibiotics have a certain chemical structure; the category includes antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin and methicillin.
Most of the time, Staph infections just cause localized skin damage; however, Staph infections have the potential to become dangerous when they do not just stay skin-deep. The bacteria can potentially invade your bloodstream, lungs, urinary tract or even your heart. This more commonly occurs in individuals with weakened immune systems, those who are acutely ill and hospitalized and those who suffer from chronic illnesses. It is not only sick people and the hospitalized population who have to worry about MRSA, however. A type of MRSA called community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) infects otherwise healthy individuals.
Symptoms of MRSA
Staph infection of the skin can result in a localized collection of abscesses, boils or furuncles that are filled with pus. The affected region may turn red and swollen and be intensely painful, and drainage of the area may occur. If the MRSA infection is moderate, some of the symptoms that may be present include headache, a general sick feeling, muscle aches, shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, shivering and chest pain of mild to medium intensity. More severe cases of MRSA infection usually have worsening symptoms, including: muscle aches, joint pain, bone pain, chest pain, painful breathing, shortness of breath, fever and chills, low blood pressure, fatigue, headaches, rash and malaise.
If the Staph bacteria manage to infect the bloodstream, a life-threatening condition called septic shock occurs. Sepsis causes a severe drop in blood pressure and may also cause fever and breathing problems. Symptoms can also occur from a bloodstream infection from the bacteria spreading to other parts of the body. When this occurs, many complications are possible, including septic arthritis, abscesses deep within the body, blood poisoning, or septicaemia, a bone infection called osteomyelitis, meningitis, endocarditis, or inflammation of the inner lining of the heart, and pneumonia.
Wounds infected with MRSA will become red, swollen and tender and have yellowish pus seeping from them in most cases. It is important to take care of minor skin wounds such as burns, cuts, puncture wounds or bites before they become infected. If the wound becomes infected, it is wise to seek professional medical attention for treatment.
Some clinical signs may be present during a MRSA infection, including: