Staph Aureus in the Nose: Facts to Share with Patients

February 2, 2016

Staphylococcus is a group of bacteria some of which can cause a number of diseases as a result of infection of various tissues of the body. Infections can be caused by a particular type of Staphylococci called Staphylococcus aureus. Illnesses and infections that are Staph-related illness can fall into a spectrum of mild to severe and possibly fatal.

Studies indicate 20% of the population are persistent carriers and up to 60% may be intermittent carriers of Staphylococcus aureus in the nose. Most times the bacteria do not cause disease; however, open lesions or wounds on the skin or other damage to the skin may allow the bacteria a place to grow and infections to develop.

Staphylococcus aureus causes infections in and out of the hospital.  It can cause boils, pneumonia, impetigo and is the leading cause of surgical site infections (SSI) in the United States.  Statistics are that 1 - 3 people out of every 100 people who have surgery develop Staph-related infections.  (http://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/ssi/ssi_tagged.pdf)

Certain groups of people may be at greater risk, especially those who have a compromised immune system, newborn infants, breastfeeding women, and people with chronic diseases and conditions.  

Families and individuals that use daycare centers, gyms, workout centers, and playgrounds should be aware of the facts of Staph since these locations have a greater risk of transmission from skin to skin contact or skin to equipment contact.  

Staph infections are contagious and may be transmitted via direct contact with the infected area and bandages or via personal care items like a razor.  Wounds that appear red, swollen and have drainage and be accompanied by a fever may be infected.

A risk factor for Staph infection can be skin colonization and nasal colonization with the Staph aureus pathogen. About 1 in 3 people could be carriers of Staph aureus in the nose. Many hospitals are taking preventive steps with products like antibiotic ointment, iodine swabs, and nonantibiotic Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® antiseptic to help achieve nasal decolonization in patients and health providers.  Treatment with antibiotics may be complicated by the development of resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA for example) which leads to increased mortality rates, increased length of hospital stays, and increased costs. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19135916)

For everyone, wounds, cuts, and scrapes should be kept clean and covered.  Since Staph may be transmitted from one part of the body to another, from the nose to the hand to an open wound for example, maintaining good hand hygiene and nasal hygiene is important for everyone from the home to the hospital.  

Parents should take care of cuts immediately and emphasize to children the importance of hand hygiene.  Bumps or blisters should be watched for signs of infection and addressed immediately to prevent the spread of infection.

For those who work in a healthcare setting or are going into the hospital for an illness or procedure, health professionals recommend Nozin® Nasal Sanitizer® to reduce Staph aureus carriage in the nose which can help reduce the risk of infection. Request a consultation with one of our Nozin advisors.



Health Professionals:
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