Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a normal inhabitant on skin and nasopharynx in many individuals. It is not harmful or dangerous in terms of infection causing potential in persons with a healthy immune system. However, sometimes S. aureus infection may be severe and may also become life-threatening.
The best preventive method is by maintaining good hygiene and regular and frequent hand washing. In fact, the deadly strain of S. aureus (Methicillin Resistant S. aureus - MRSA) that is resistant to most drugs may also be prevented from spreading by adopting proper hand washing habits.
Who’s at risk?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), staphylococcal infections, including MRSA, which are acquired beyond the health care setting occur most frequently among persons where the 5 C's are present. These include:
- Contact (Frequent skin-to-skin)
- Compromised skin (cuts or abrasions)
- Contaminated items and surfaces,
- Lack of Cleanliness.
S. aureus infections can also spread via contaminated or infected animals and pets. The key to prevention lies in dealing with these 5 C’s.
Prevention of S. aureus infection spread
Schools, day cares, military camps, prisons etc. are especially susceptible to spread and transmission of S. aureus infections. All staff and students should report minor or major skin and other infections to prevent spread. Those handling food should be especially careful.
Skin-to-skin contact with an infected person may be prevented using numerous measures. These include wearing gloves, face masks etc. Community lockers, showers etc. need to be regularly cleaned to avoid contamination.
Compromised skin (cuts or abrasions)
Susceptible individuals should avoid cosmetic shaving of legs and arms to prevent minor cuts and abrasions. Small wounds such as scrapes, abrasions, scratches, and any break in skin should be immediately attended to and cleaned. Adequate bandages should be used to keep wounds clean, dry and covered.
Contaminated items and surfaces
Personal items such as clothes, towels, uniforms, equipment, razors should not be shared.
Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer should be used. Alcohol has proven to be an effective topical sanitizer against MRSA. Regular showers and washing towels and clothes are important.