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December 16, 2016
By Max Gruber, Contributing Columnist
Okay, You’ve probably heard of one famous staph
infection --- "methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus",
otherwise known as MRSA or the Superbug.
But while this is certainly a chilling and potentially fatal
infection, it is not the only staph infection you need to
watch out for.
Staph infections are caused by the bacterium
Staphylococcus. These bacteria can cause a number of
different infections from mild skin infections to life-
threatening infections of the lungs, heart, and blood.
Most infections are caused by the Staphylococcus aureus
bacterium, which include MRSA – you may have heard this
referred to as the flesh-eating superbug.
The staph infection MRSA, which is resistant to most
standard antibiotics, is the most common cause of skin
infections in America, according to a 2006 report from
researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.
And researchers at Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus
Christi, Texas (2007) say community-acquired MRSA is
posing a growing danger to healthy people across the US.
These kinds of infection are responsible for at least two
million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the US according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What Are the Types of Staph Infection?
Staph infections can be categorized into two main types –
skin infections and invasive infections. Skin and soft tissue
infections include boils, impetigo, cellulitis, skin abscess,
folliculitis, wound infections, and staphylococcal scalded
skin syndrome. Invasive infections are rarer and more
serious. They include septic arthritis, osteomyelitis,
pneumonia, endocarditis, sepsis, and toxic shock syndrome.
How Do You Catch a Staph Infection?
Staph bacteria are surprisingly common. One in three
people has bacteria on their skin, usually harmlessly. The
problem comes when the bacteria enter the body through
a cut or burn or insect bite.
Or you can get a staph infection through infected food, or
by sharing close skin contact with someone who has
bacteria on their skin.
Skin infections caused by staph are common among
teenagers, children, and young adults.
Invasive infections are rarer and tend to affect people who
have a weakened immune system or who have undergone
a medical procedure where the medical equipment directly
enters the body, i.e. as a catheter.
Men often get staph infections in the gym. One guy is
infected, he doesn't wipe off the gym equipment, you
come along for your set of reps, and take away a little
Can Staph Infection Be Prevented?
You can significantly reduce your chances of being infected
with staph bacteria by washing your hands with soap and
warm water regularly.
Keep cuts clean and covered.
Use an antibacterial alcohol gel to cleanse hands, and avoid
sharing towels, toothbrushes, washcloths, and razors.
Minor staph skin infections can usually be treated with
antibiotic creams and some will get better on their own.
Invasive infections need hospital treatment.
We scoured recent scientific research to find out how
staph infection can be treated most effectively.
1. Vitamin B3 Can Kill Staph Bugs
Vitamin B3 could help your immune system destroy staph
bacteria which are responsible for staph infections,
according to a 2012 study on mice and human blood at the
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Linus Pauling Institute at
Oregon State University (OSU), and the University of
California Los Angeles (UCLA).
The scientists discovered that high doses of vitamin B3
boost the immune cells’ ability to kill staph bacteria by
The results need to be replicated in human studies before
treatment could reasonably commence with vitamin B3.
But, in the meantime, get your sun on. Simply getting
enough exposure to sunlight can significantly boost your
levels of Vitamin B3.
2. New Vaccine Protects Against Staph Pneumonia
A 2014 study from the University of Iowa shows how a
new vaccine helps to protect against the potentially lethal
strain of pneumonia infection induced by staph bacteria.
The new vaccine targets three toxins that are secreted by
the staph bacteria. Researchers say: “Our study suggests
that vaccination against these toxins may provide
protection against all strains of staph. If we can translate
this finding into an effective vaccine for people it could
potentially prevent millions of cases of serious and milder
skin and soft tissue infections yearly.”
3. Precise Testing Helps Identify Staph Bacterium
A new lab test could more quickly identify staph bacteria,
meaning that effective treatment could target the infection
in less time.
In 2012, scientists from the Georgia Institute of
Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention shows how mass spectrometry is used to
identify the number of staph bacteria in large numbers of
samples in just a few hours, as compared to one or two
4. Staph Infection Runs in the Family
Knowing that staph infections can run in the family makes
it easier to target prevention and treatment, say experts.
A 2016 study by Aalborg University and Copenhagen
University Hospital Herlev-Gentofte in Copenhagen,
Denmark says having a first-degree relative with a history
of staph infection significantly increases the risk for the
Studies have shown a link between genetics and staph
infection in the past. The risk in the study was significantly
greater if the infected patient was a sibling and not a
5. Triple Antibiotics Treat Staph Infections
One of the most effective types of treatment for staph
infection is antibiotics.
But many strains of staph infection are actually resistant to
antibiotics. A 2015 study from Washington University
School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that three antibiotics
that are individually not very effective against drug-
resistant staph infection actually kill the bacteria when
combined. The team tested the drugs on mice and believes
the results can be replicated in humans.
The three drugs, meropenem, piperacillin and tazobactaml,
are beta-lactam antibiotics.
6. A Chestnut Leaves Extract Kills Staph Bacteria?
New research shows that an extract from the leaves of the
European chestnut tree destroys staph bacteria without
boosting its drug resistance.
A 2015 study from Emory University demonstrates that
components within the leaves which include ursene and
oleanene derivatives block staph infections. Researchers
say “we've identified a family of compounds from this
plant that have an interesting medicinal mechanism. Rather
than killing staph, this botanical extract works by taking
away staph's weapons, essentially shutting off the ability
of the bacteria to create toxins that cause tissue damage.
In other words, it takes the teeth out of the bacteria's
7. Electronic Implants Eliminate Staph Infections And
According to a 2014 study from Tufts University and the
University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, an electronic
implant made from silk and magnesium eliminated bacteria
by sending heat to the site of the infection when initiated
remotely by a wireless signal. The devices then dissolved
Implantable medical devices are a big hope for the future
and could help eliminate the bacteria threat through Wi-Fi
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|Staph infections can be easily spread by contact in
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