A friend mentioned to me the other day that she knows three people who entered the hospital for surgery and ended up fighting Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Hospital acquired infections, also called nosocomial infections, are a major concern at healthcare facilities, and Staphylococcus aureus infections are among the easiest to pick up. Acute care providers, like Fairview Southdale Hospital here in Edina, follow recommendations set out by Minnesota’s Department of Health to prevent the spread of MRSA, a Staph bacteria resistant to a number of antibiotics.
Why is it so easy to get a Staph infection?
Your skin is colonized with bacteria. In other words, every millimeter of your skin is a microscopic world, teeming with microorganisms. But rather than being disgusted by this fact, you should be grateful.
The microorganisms that form your “normal microflora” actually help keep you healthy, as Rob Dunn, author of ” The Wildlife of our Bodies: Predators, Parasites and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today ” described on National Public Radio’s “Science Friday. “
Dunn describes how the healthy bacteria on our skin keep the dangerous ones at bay, and claims that washing your hands with antibacterial soap may kill the good bacteria on your skin, leaving you more vulnerable to illness. He claims normal soap washes away newly-acquired bad germs while leaving normal, helpful microbes on skin.
Our bodies have a number of defenses against infection, and the salt in our sweat is harmful to a number of bacteria and other microbes, keeping them from growing on our skin. Unfortunately, S taphylococcus bacteria thrive on salt, and more than twelve different species of Staph live on our skin.
The most pathogenic of the strains of Staphylococci , or the most likely to cause disease, are Staphylococcus aureus ( Staph aureus ) bacteria. Half of all adults and almost all children are Staph aureus carriers, who have the bacteria on their skin or in their nasal passages.
Staph aureus can get into hair follicles, causing pimples, or the base of an eyelash, causing a sty. These Staph invasions can become deeper and cause abscess or