Is Staph Infection in Lungs Contagious and How can it be Treated?

Staphylococcus is gram positive non motile bacteria. It colonizes skin and mucus membrane and grows in clusters like grape and hence it is called staphylococcus (staphyle -meaning grape like).  The natural habitat of staphylococcus is nose; it can be isolated in 50 % of normal individuals. 20% of people are skin carriers and 10 percent of people harbor staphylococcus in their intestines.

Staph infection in lungs is not as common as other type of staph infection that occurs in the skin, intestine and elsewhere in the body. ‘Staphylococcus aureus’ is the commonest staph species to cause tissue damage and disease in human beings. It is also responsible for staph infection in lungs. Staphylococcus organism by themselves when present on skin surface or in the nose may not cause any symptoms of a disease, however when they enter the blood stream they can invade any tissue and organs when the body is in low immune state. The commonest staph infections in lungs are pneumonia, lung abscess and empyema.

Staph infection in lungs is usually seen in already ill patient with a prolonged hospital stay and who is at extreme of age. Children and elderly individuals are at a greater risk of contracting staph lung infection as well as those with a depressed immune system.

The lungs can become target of staphylococcal aureus by the way of aspiration or as a part of septicemia. Staphylococcus can enter the lungs when the patient is bedridden and he is on ventilator. It is possible for the instrument to carry the germs in the bronchus and lungs. The organism can also enter in bloodstream through catheters or IV’s. Nowadays there are resistant strains of staphylococcus organisms found in hospital set ups. These organisms are difficult to treat with normal antibiotics.

Is Staph Infection in Lungs Contagious?

Staph infection in lungs is contagious, especially methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain. The infection can spread by direct contact with an infected patient. It can also be a hospital acquired bacterial infection or a community acquired staph infection due to inhalation of the pathogens or by aspiration of the respiratory secretions of an infected individual. The pathogens make a foot hold when your immune system is low. If you have recently recovered from illness, try to avoid coming in contact with a person who is suffering from common cold or influenza and pneumonia. it is common in patients in ICU, person who is on ventilator or on nebulization.

Symptoms of Staph Infection in Lungs

Staphylococcus pneumonia is the commonest form of staph lung infection. The person suffering from this disease has high fever with shivering and chills. Pain in the chest and dry or productive cough are present. Blood in sputum is always present in staph pneumonia. An abscess can also form with staph lung infection. Staphylococcus pneumonia is a serious complication of influenza. In some cases there is associated jaundice, pericarditis, and renal failure. Few other symptoms are pain in chest while breathing, dehydration, wheezing. The person feels extremely tired.

Staph Infection in Lungs Treatment Process and Preventive Measures

Preventive measures: it is very important to strengthen the immune system of the person especially in high risk groups. If the patient is in ICU or in hospital, caretaker should use face mask and hand gloves. It is also important to discontinue smoking when a person is suffering from staph infection in lungs. Early removal of endotracheal tube, influenza vaccines for elderly and those having respiratory tract diseases such as asthma etc is valuable in preventing staph lung infection. Antibiotics, steam inhalation, chest physiotherapy are all important to cure staph lung infection. In resistant cases higher antibiotics are generally prescribed.

6 thoughts on “Is Staph Infection in Lungs Contagious and How can it be Treated?

  • April 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    My father is suffering from alcoholic dementia. He was in ICU and just got discharged from the hospital. Now he is again admitted in a nursing home. He has staph infection in the lungs. His food intake has reduced considerably. How serious is this condition? What is the treatment?

    • April 8, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Staph infection in lungs can cause pneumonia. With aging the immunity of a person reduces. Therefore any form of infection should be considered serious. However, with advent of effective modern day antibiotics, the prognosis is much better than it used to be in olden days before the invention of antibiotics.

  • July 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I have been visiting my ex husband in the hospital, I just found out that he has staph infection in the lungs. I did not wear a mask or put on gloves. I also kissed his hand. Can I get infected? Also our 8 year old grandson was visiting him in the ICU, could he get infected as well?

    • July 30, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      Staphylococcal bacteria can spread from touch, but if your immune system is strong there is less risk of suffering from staph infection. Not all persons who come in contact with staph bacteria suffer from the infection. Observe your health and if you find any changes within few days after your visit to the patient consult your doctor.


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