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Blood staph infections are a condition where the infection gets into the bloodstream. These infections are referred to as bacteremia and septicemia. Staphylococcus, or staph as it is commonly called, is a major cause of blood infections. Bacteremia is the mild form of blood poisoning, but if it progresses it becomes septicemia.
Bacteremia happens when staph enters the bloodstream, usually through a wound or infection on the body. Some conditions increase the likelihood of developing bacteremia such as HIV infection, drug abuse, antibiotic therapy, malnutrition and chemotherapy. It is often caused by things like abscesses, bed sores, dirty needles and urinary tract infections from urinary catheters.
Septicemia happens when bacteremia progresses to a severe life-threatening infection. It happens very fast and the source is usually an infection in the lungs, stomach or urinary tract that has entered the bloodstream. The outcome depends on how fast antibiotics are started to fight the infection. If not treated quickly, it can advance to respiratory distress syndrome and shock.
Some milder symptoms of blood infection are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and shortness of breath. Severe symptoms that come with septicemia are low blood pressure, decreased urine output, problems with clotting and low body temperature. These patients will visibly look sick. Also changes in mental status and bleeding into the skin are indicators that there is a blood infection.
Staph infections are diagnosed by doing cultures of the blood. The blood samples will grow the organism and then doctors determine the strand of bacteria and how to treat it. Indications of blood infection during physical exams are low blood pressure, fever and low body temperature.
The treatment for bacteremia may be antibiotics or no treatment at all. Close monitoring is needed to watch for signs of septicemia, which requires hospitalization. The patient with septicemia is given IV medicines to raise blood pressure and IV antibiotics to treat the infection. Most of the time this type of patient is treated in the intensive care unit.
To prevent blood infections such as bacteremia practice good hygiene when you have a virus and treat the bacteria quickly once it is known. Also, medical professionals must practice sterile protocol when performing invasive procedures that can allow infection into the blood. Prevention of septicemia depends largely on treating the bacteremia very quickly to prevent the infection from advancing. Sometimes people who come in contact with people with septicemia are also treated with antibiotic therapy to prevent any spread of the infection.