Bacterial and Fungal Infections in Persons Who Inject Drugs

Bacterial and fungal infections numbers have significantly increased in individuals who use drugs through injection. The Center for Disease control highlights that the highest number of patients admitted to the western New York emergency department who injected themselves had the Staphylococcus aureus pathogen (Hartnett et al. 1). Almost all people with these infections used opioids but were not offered treatment that was medically assisted in minimizing drug use. Therefore, it is essential to understand the background information of the bacterium.

Staphylococcus aureus is a type of bacteria that is abbreviated as “Staph aureus” or “S. aureus”. The bacterium was discovered in 1880 in Scotland by Surgeon Sir Alexander Ogston in surgical abscesses pus (Bouzidi et al. 193). This organism stains Gram-positive, and its diameter is approximately 0.5-1.5 µm. The pathogen is referred to as Staphylococcus because it is found in irregular staphyloma clusters that are grape-like (Sharma et al. 9). This bacterium is arranged in cocci chains known as tetrads and carsina. Its pathogenicity is its unique survival in hostile environmental conditions (Haysom et al. 193). Additionally, the pathogen colonizes the skin, and the mucous membrane causes severe toxin-mediated or pyogenic infections in human beings. An infection caused by staph bacteria is contagious if the wound is draining or weeping.

This pathogen can also be caught if individuals share contaminated items such as towels, soap, or sports equipment (Haysom et al. 196). Additionally, the bacterium can be found on surfaces that are touched by people more often, for example, doorknobs or mobile phones. The risk group of Staphylococcus aureus is RG-2, and its biosafety level is BSL-2 (Haysom et al. 198). The genera species of S. aureus is the genus Staphylococcus, and its positive coagulase makes it pathogenic to animals and human beings. S. aureus causes various infections and contains enterotoxins which are also poisonous in foods. The bacteria’s diagnosis involves checking its signs in nasal secretion or a tissue sample (Haysom et al. 199). However, if a staph infection is identified, the doctor might conduct an imaging test known as an echocardiogram to check if the infection has affected the heart.

The catalase test is used to distinguish the negative staphylococci because they are catalase positive. Sharma et al. (6) explain that this examination is conducted by a broth culture or flooding an agar slant with a few 3% hydrogen peroxide drops. The coagulase test is used to identify Staphylococcus and divides them into coagulase-positive and negative. Draining the affected area and using antibiotics are the treatment methods for staph infections (Sharma et al. 7). The estimated “R naught” (R0) for S. aureus is 1.66, which poses a health concern because it is associated with the increasing number of bloodstream infections (BSI). These unfortunate developments cause significant secondary infections, for example, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, and infective endocarditis (IE). When the staph bacteria affect the bloodstream, it results in sepsis (Sharma et al. 8). This infection can lead to septic shock, which is a life-threatening condition with blood pressure that is extremely low.

In conclusion, S. aureus is a pandemic concern because drug injection happens in countries worldwide. This pathogen is contagious and can cause adverse effects on individuals resulting in death. People should implement ways of preventing the spread of the bacteria by observing hands hygiene and avoiding injecting into an area that has not been cleaned. It is also advisable to avoid sharing equipment such as towels.

Works Cited

Bouzidi, H., et al. “Differential time to positivity of central and peripheral blood cultures is inaccurate for the diagnosis of Staphylococcus aureus long-term catheter-related sepsis.” Journal of Hospital Infection 99.2 (2018): 192-199. Web.

Hartnett, Kathleen P., et al. “Bacterial and fungal infections in persons who inject drugs—Western New York, 2017.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 68.26 (2019): 583.

Haysom, Leigh, et al. “Prevalence and risk factors for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in custodial populations: A systematic review.” Journal of Correctional Health Care 24.2 (2018): 197-213. Web.

Sharma, Binita Koirala, S. Gokhale, and K. Sharma. “Urea-Fibrinogen Slide Coagulase Test–A Simple Alternative Method for the Rapid Identification of Staphylococcus aureus.” Journal of Gandaki Medical College-Nepal 10.1 (2017): 5-10. Web.

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