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Video: How Staphylococcus Aureus Spreads Through Our Homes
How staphylococcus aureus spreads through our homes
Scientists described how methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus invades people's homes and spreads between family members and pets. A deadly bacterium loves mess and poor hygiene. A few simple measures can help stop its circulation at home.
Staphylococcus aureus. Photo: CC0 /
Scientists described how methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus invades people's homes and spreads between family members and pets. A study on one of the most dangerous bacteria, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Staphylococcus aureus (Staphylococcus aureus) occurs on the skin of every third healthy person. In most cases, he behaves harmlessly. But under certain conditions, it is capable of causing a wide range of diseases - from relatively mild skin diseases (acne, boils) to deadly (pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis, infectious toxic shock).
Methicillin-resistan Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a group of strains of this bacterium that are resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics (penicillin and cephalosporin series). This is a historical name because the antibiotic methicillin has long been discontinued. MRSA's resistance to a large number of antibiotics traditionally used to combat it makes it an extremely dangerous pathogen.
Scientists were inspired by their medical work to explore the role of the home environment in the acquisition and transfer of MRSA. In practice, they have often seen members of the same family come to an appointment with primary or recurrent diseases caused by this infection during the year.
The authors recruited 150 children, an average of three years of age, without obvious illnesses, who were treated for staphylococcal infection between 2012 and 2015. Also, the participants were family members living with them (almost 700 people) and pets (more than 150 cats and dogs).
During the year, researchers visited each home 5 times and took samples from the surfaces of household items that people usually touch (doorknobs, refrigerators, sink faucets, bathroom countertops, sheets, bath towels, switches, telephones, remotes, computer peripherals - mice and keyboards). Participants were asked over 100 questions about hygiene and personal habits, and swabs were taken from the nose, armpits and groin in humans, as well as from the nose and along the back from animals.
Scientists have identified MRSA about 1,300 times. In about half of people and in a third of pets, they found MRSA at least once during the study period. It turned out that cats and dogs were less likely to carry these bacteria. Based on this, the authors suggested that animals are unlikely to be a reservoir for staphylococcus. Most likely, they got it from people.
By studying specific strains of staphylococcus, scientists have divided bacteria into circulating in the home and "aliens" from the outside world. According to the data obtained, both its distribution among family members (602 cases) and the entry of new bacteria into the house (510 cases) are responsible for the transmission chain of MRSA.
After analyzing the health and hygiene habits of the study participants, the scientists noted several important trends. Frequent hand washing with soap or disinfectant (after coming from the street, going to the toilet, changing a baby diaper, before eating and preparing food) contributed to a decrease in the risk of staphylococcus entering the home. Whereas going to kindergarten, on the contrary, increased the likelihood of staphylococcus.
The following factors have been found to be associated with the spread of MRSA:
strong contamination of household surfaces;
- obvious bad smell and mess;
- rented and overcrowded houses or apartments;
- sharing of bedrooms, beds, personal hygiene items.
On the other hand, transmission of MRSA was significantly lower if family members:
prefer a shower over taking a bath;
- brush their teeth at least twice a day;
- use antibacterial hand soap.
MRSA circulation in the home is a very important factor in the transmission of this infection, according to scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. In their opinion, aggressively fighting the infection at home can reduce its prevalence.
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