Generally, both viral and bacterial infections are spread in the same ways. It could either be airborne or through contact with infected people or objects.
How do skin infections get started?
Getting Staph or MRSA skin infections can happen in any of the following ways:
- Contact with people, pets, surfaces or objects that have already been contaminated with MRSA or Staph bacteria. An infected person or Staph or MRSA carrier can easily infect other people.
Now, casual contact with an infected person or object may not necessarily lead to an infection.
2. The bacteria would have to pass through your skin for you to be infected. There is really no infection until the bacteria is inside your body system. This can happen in any of the 3 ways listed below:
- Getting a cut in your skin either through a razor, burn, scrape or needle
- When an existing cut or wound gets contaminated with the bacteria.
- By entering through small openings on the skin such as hair follicles, which can lead to folliculitis.
How do you catch Staph nose infections?
The nose infections can happen just like the skin infections, either through the hair follicles or any skin scrapes. Sometimes they start after surgery, flu or colds, times when the nasal tissues are likely sore or impaired.
The truth is there is really no concrete information on how nose infections start, but researchers claim that Staph aureus bacteria creates a protein with which they bind themselves to human skin cells.
How do internal infections get started?
When you try to prick or crush skin boils or other skin infections by yourself, you may end up push infections internally. Using unclean catheters or poor hygiene can lead to MRSA urinary tract infections.
Similarly, when you let your wounds get contaminated, it can become an internal infection. Research has shown that most people become internally infected during hospital procedures, which can lead to internal infection of MRSA/Staph bacteria.
- You can get skin infections through contaminated room air or surgical instruments.
- Using contaminated medical implants; metal screws or plates can lead to lethal blood or bone infections.
- You can also get an internal infection from using medical instruments such as ventilators and bladder catheters.
Risk factors: Community, personal and hospitals
One of the easiest places to get infected by Staph or MRSA bacteria are medical or healthcare centers. In fact, it’s the number one place.
Unfortunately, crowded community centers and public places are fast becoming major sources of these infections.
MRSA is a strain of Staph infection and so you can get the infections through the same means but MRSA is more lethal since it is resistant to most antibiotics. This makes it a more difficult strain to treat.
Community and public risks
As mentioned earlier, MRSA and other supposed “superbugs” started majorly in hospitals but now the community and public centers are fast becoming the areas of risk.
Since these 2 bacteria come mostly from people, any crowded area with too many people touching or using the same objects and surfaces can be considered a major base for all sorts of bacteria, including MRSA and Staph.
The most common places for MRSA and Staph in the community are:
- Public transportation (buses, taxi cabs and airplanes)
- Day care facilities, schools and college campuses
- Military barracks
- Shopping centers
- Pools, hot tubs and even the beach sand and surrounding fresh or salt water
- Amusement parks
- Homeless shelters
Common community infection types
The skin infections caused by the Staph and MRSA in community are manifested in the following ways:
- Abscesses, cellulitis and boils from both bacteria.
- Sinus infections, ear or eye infections from MRSA.
- Some skin infections find their way inside the body and become life threatening.
- Painful sores inside the nose
Personal activity risks
There are many activities, risk factors and conditions that can increase the chances exposure to Staph or MRSA.
There are also some activities or conditions that can help you take the right precaution to protect yourself, especially in areas that are considered high risk for MRSA or Staph.
Activities that can increase the chances of exposure
- Sharing of clothes or sports equipment
- Sharing of private items like razors or towels
- Having sexual intercourse with an infected person
- Treating Staph infections that are resistant to antibiotics will increase your risk of getting MRSA
- Close contact while caring for infected family members or friends
- Contact with infected household pets
- Pricking your skin with needles or intravenous drug use
- Getting Tattoos
- Having a poor body hygiene
- Playing contact sports either with a professional team or in schools
Sharing sports equipment and playing contact sports is a major risk factor. In recent times, the news have shown many cases of Staph and MRSA outbreaks inside NBA, NFL and other major sports teams; even high school and college teams are not left out.
Conditions that can make you more prone to infection
- Being a carrier of MRSA or Staph bacteria
- Having skin injuries or history of previous skin infections
- Lack of healthy diet
- Weak immune system caused by other illnesses or diseases like HIV, Cancer, stress or insomnia
- Diabetes and obesity
- Using drugs that suppress the immune system as in the case of organ transplant patients or any other medications that renders you weak against the infections
- Babies, toddlers and the elderly are usually defenseless against the bacteria
Hospital and healthcare risks
Hospitals and other healthcare centers are still the major breeding grounds for these bacteria. It is very easy to catch these infections in the hospitals because most of the superbugs were created in the hospitals.
Going to the hospital as a patient or visiting patients remains the fastest way to be exposed to these infections. Other healthcare centers and diagnostic centers are also key places to easily get infected.
Here are some of the fastest ways to catch MRSA and Staph in healthcare establishments.
- Using contaminated medical instruments and devices such as metal or silicone implants can lead to both internal and skin infections
- Using catheters can cause bladder infections
- Pic lines or IV needles can lead to blood infections or other internal infections
- Needle punctures from vaccinations or injections can give you skin or internal infection
- Poorly maintained MRI scanning units can cause skin infections
- Poorly maintained medical appliances like respirators can lead to lung infections.
- Incisions from surgical procedures can lead to infections if not properly take care of
- You can also get infected from using contaminated surgical implants such artificial knees
- The airborne MRSA is also said to cause skin colonization, infection or pneumonia.
- If you share a room with a MRSA carrier in the hospital or with someone with an active MRSA infection, you are likely going to be infected
Warning about shared hospital rooms
Most hospitals do not separate infected patients from those who are not infected. This increases the chances of exposure to these bacterial infections. In fact, many hospitals don’t warn patients that their roommate is infected.
This is sad and unethical considering that they are putting the non-infected patients in danger by leaving them exposed to infection.
Hospitals need to have proper hygiene practices and also proved steps necessary to control MRSA in the air. This will help reduce the risk of being infected.
Reducing your risk of infection
You don’t need to let the fear of being infected keep you from going out or relating with people or even doing the things that you love doing.
You just need to be more aware of what activities can lead to more exposure to MRSA or Staph and how infection can occur. Once you are properly informed, then you can take the necessary precautions to minimize your chances of being infected.
Wash your hands properly and regularly. Maintaining a good hygiene helps a lot. Try not to touch your face when you are out until you’ve properly washed your hands.
Staph and MRSA thrive in humid and moist places like the nose; so only touch your nose with clean hands. Having a hand sanitizer with you helps a lot, especially when you don’t have access to soap and water.
Try to shower before and after being in certain crowded places like the club, pubs, beach, sports centers or gym. This will help to minimize the presence of bacteria on your body, which you may have picked up from touching people or sharing equipment.
FAQ’s about catching MRSA
Is it possible to catch MRSA in the air, or can I catch it from home surfaces? Yes, you can. They are easily transferred from contaminated surfaces and objects. If you have an infected person in your home, then the air and surfaces are most likely contaminated already.
Can I catch MRSA from a friend? Casual exposure may not necessarily lead to an infection. It is ok to be concerned about yourself and your family, especially when you find out that your friend is a carrier or has been infected but it doesn’t guaranty infection.
Can I get MRSA from my pet? Yes, it is possible although pets usually get it from their owners or someone close to the family. Pets are not normally carriers unless they have been infected by people. This is not really common but it happens.
Can I give MRSA to my partner during intercourse? Since MRSA and Staph thrive mostly in the moist and warm body parts like the armpits, nose and groin area, then it is possible to transfer through sexual intercourse. It is a big risk, especially for the uninfected person.