Staph infections are caused by the staphylococcus bacteria. Most people carry this germ, but 40% to 60% of people do so without showing any outward symptoms. Staph commonly resides on the skin or nasal lining. Most of the time, you’ll only get minor skin infections.
However, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by drug-resistant staph. It has evolved to outwit many of the broad-spectrum antibiotics often used to treat regular staph infections. Mostly, MRSA infections occur in hospital and other close living situations, such as frail care or assisted care living facilities. These infections typically result from inserting invasive procedures or devices, or even surgery.
The challenge is that an open wound is created in someone with an already possibly weakened immune system and staph being the optimist it is, will try and make a go of a new host given half a chance.
Here are the most common risk factors for and causes of MRSA.
1. Implanted Heart Devices
Pacemakers and other implanted heart devices extend the life expectancy of people with cardiovascular heart rhythm problems. However, if you have one of these devices and develop a staph infection it could actually be life-threatening, as reported in the August 2001 edition of Journal of the American Heart Association. The two most likely devices would be a pacemaker or an internal cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). A pacemaker is a tiny, inserted battery-operated device that helps the heart maintain a regular rhythm. An ICD delivers electric shocks to correct abnormal rhythms.
The study was the largest of its kind at the time, and analyzed individuals with pacemakers or cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) who had blood Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia (staph) infections. Clinical data from the study suggested that if the infection occurs within 12 months of being inserted, the device was likely infected in 75% of cases. Usually, the staph had originated in tissue elsewhere in the body, then spread to the device, but the actual device was also thought to be the root cause in 18% of cases. As an affected patient, you’d then need a new device or antibiotics.