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Staph infection kills former NBA player

Alan Ogg, former UAB basketball player and NBA shotblocker, passed away this weekends from complications of a staph infection.  In lieu of this unfortunate event, each one of you need to know a little more about how staph is acquired, and the risks associated from it.

Everyone has heard of MRSA, the deadly form of this bacteria that is usually associated with hospital infection.  I bet most of you, however, do not know that you have it somewhere in or on your body right this very instant. Staphylococcus aureus is found naturally in your nasal passage, which is one of the reasons you should never pick your nose.  Aside from you getting the bacteria and smearing it all over what you touch next, you could cut the inside of your nose and allow the bacteria to enter the wound and feast.  S. aureus can also be found on your skin, in your mouth, and inside your GI tract.  Staphylococcus epidermis, S. aureus' brother, can also be found on the skin.

Most of the time, this bacteria will not infect you.  Infection most often occurs with some type of lesion or other injury that makes the body less able to control the bacteria.  Also, contact, surface contamination, and a general lack of personal hygiene can raise the risk of contracting it as an infection.  What kinds of disorders can S. aureus cause?

On the skin, it can cause abscesses, boils, furuncles, cellulitis, impetigo, scaled skin syndrome, and mastitis (in breastfeeding mothers).

Upon entry to the bloodstream (sepsis), it can lead to pneumonia, endocarditis, heart failure, and osteomyelitis.

The lesson here is not to be paranoid, but to be cautious of your skin.  If you have a wound, make sure it is cleaned and dressed properly... no matter how big or small the cut.  Also, keep your fingers out of your nose, and be careful who you come in physical contact with.