• Staphylococcus Aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is a gram-positive coccal bacterium that is a member of the Firmicutes, and is frequently found in the nose, respiratory tract, and on the skin. It is often positive for catalase and nitrate reduction and is a facultative aerobe that can grow without the need for oxygen. Although S. aureus is not always pathogenic, it is a common cause of skin infections such as abscesses, respiratory infections such as sinusitis, and food poisoning. Pathogenic strains often promote infections by producing potent protein toxins, and expressing cell-surface proteins that bind and inactivate antibodies. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of S. aureus such as methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is a worldwide problem in clinical medicine.

Staphylococcus was first identified in 1880 in Aberdeen, Scotland, by the surgeon Sir Alexander Ogston in pus from a surgical abscess in a knee joint. This name was later amended to Staphylococcus aureus by Friedrich Julius Rosenbach, who was credited by the official system of nomenclature at the time. An estimated 20% of the human population are long-term carriers of S. aureus which can be found as part of the normal skin flora and in the nostrils. S. aureus is a normal inhabitant of the healthy lower reproductive tract of women. S. aureus can cause a range of illnesses, from minor skin infections, such as pimples, impetigo, boils, cellulitis, folliculitis, carbuncles, scalded skin syndrome, and abscesses, to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome, bacteremia, and sepsis. It is still one of the five most common causes of hospital-acquired infections and is often the cause of postsurgical wound infections. Each year, around 500,000 patients in hospitals of the United States contract a staphylococcal infection, chiefly by S. aureus.

Symptoms Include

1. Boils on the Skin

This is the most common and least alarming of all symptoms associated with Staph. In cases of mild infection, boils or pus-filled skin eruptions develop at the site of an oil gland or hair follicle. Such boils usually manifest on the face, neck, armpit(s), groin or buttocks. The affected area usually becomes red and swollen as well, alongside being tender to touch. If the symptoms do not disappear despite consumption of antibiotics, often boils are physically drained for speedy recovery.

2. Painful Blisters and Sores

Staph infection may sometimes lead to a condition called impetigo which is characterised by appearance of blisters and sores on the skin. The areas usually affected include the nose and mouth or the trunk region. The sores and blisters that appear have a tendency to burst and leave behind a yellowish crust. The affected skin is usually itchy though it may or may not be painful. It is highly inadvisable for patients to scratch or pick on the blisters and sores for that may lead to permanent marks on the skin.

3. Redness, Swelling and Warm Skin

If localized regions of the skin, particularly in the leg region, become inflamed, red, tender and warm, it may signal the onset of a staph infection called cellulitis. Cellulitis occurs when the bacteria begin acting upon the deeper layers of tissue. The affected area may also develop ulcers or become prone to skin dimpling. Other symptoms including fever, chills, malaise and nausea may accompany the most typical symptoms on the skin.

4. Appearance of Burn-like Marks

In less frequent instances, the action of the bacteria may provoke the onset of Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome(SSSS). This is a more serious condition whereby the affected individual develops blisters which on bursting, cause the removal of the top skin layer. This leaves the skin red and raw, as if it were burned. This condition is most common amongst babies and young children, thus necessitating an immediate recourse to professional medical care if it occurs.

5. Food Poisoning

One of the more common manifestations of staph infection is an individual getting food poisoning. Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and low blood pressure are common. These signs usually appear within a few hours of consumption of contaminated food. Mercifully, the symptoms do not persist for long, sometimes lasting for less than a day even.

6. Fever with Low Blood Pressure

When Staph bacteria enter the bloodstream, it leads to blood poisoning or Bacteremia. This is a serious condition which can lead to infections in different parts of the body. It may not just affect internal organs including the lungs, heart or brain but even bones, muscles and surgical implants. In most instances, blood poisoning leads to an individual getting fever and their blood pressure dropping. If Bacteremia incites other infections, other symptoms may be present as well.

7. High Fever with Multiple Symptoms

In rare cases, the staph bacteria may cause an individual to develop Toxic Shock Syndrome. This occurs when certain strains of bacteria release toxins into the blood, leading to several functional anomalies within the body. Mostly, a sudden high fever is developed and other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, confusion and muscle pain may also be felt. Toxic Shock Syndrome is potentially life-threatening and calls for emergency medical resuscitation.

8. Joints’ Problems

Sometimes, staph infections may also be responsible for individuals developing septic arthritis. This condition typically affects the knees though symptoms may be observed in the hip, shoulder, spine, ankle or elbow too. Pain and swelling in the affected joint are common signs associated with septic arthritis, and the patient’s temperature may also rise in certain cases.

9. Pain in the Bone(s) of Legs

Staph infections are also known to cause Osteomyelitis or bone infection in some individuals. It is usually the long bones of the leg(s) that are affected. They become painful and movement gets restricted. Redness, swelling and warm skin in the affected limb are also common. Though this is not a medical emergency, if left untreated, one may develop chronic Osteomyelitis, whereby these symptoms occur recurrently, every now and then.

Other symptoms include burning sensation, worm like movement, internal heat, blisters among others

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Staphylococcus Aureus

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