Chain of Infection

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Infection, as defined by Encyclopedia Britannica (2011), is the invasion and multiplication of different pathogenic microorganisms in the body-such as fungi, bacteria and viruses- the body’s reaction to it and the defense mechanisms it activates to counter these pathogens or the toxins they produce. Infections can range from simple to complex ones that can be fatal or debilitating, but because of the continuous researches and studies to protect the human race, antibiotics were discovered. Antibiotics inhibit the release of toxins of these microorganisms or simply fight against them to eliminate the harmful effects they bring about. Luckily, before one can resort to the use of antibiotics that can also have side effects on the body, there are six components that must be established, and can be interrupted, before an infection can occur. That is what we call the chain of infection. The six components include a pathogen, a reservoir of infection, a portal of exit, a mode of transmission, a portal of entry and finally, a susceptible host.

For an infection to occur, the most important factor would be the pathogen. There are various infective agents being battled every single day. These pathogens continue to grow, multiply and evolve as humans also continue to find a way to avert their emergence and contend against their harmful effects. One of them is Staphylococcus aureus. “Staph”, as it is more commonly known, is one of the most common causes for skin infection. They are Gram- positive bacteria, spherical in shape and occur in grape-like clusters. These organisms are resistant to high temperatures (as high as 50°C), high salt concentrations and drying (Tolan, 2011). It is a common microorganism and can usually be found in the human axilla, inguinal area or nose. There are a lot of antibiotics that are used to treat staphylococcal infections. They have been found to be most responsive to a group of antibiotics called beta-lactams that include oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin (A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, 2011). However, since bacteria evolve, it has been found out that there is a strain of Staphylococcus aureus that has become resistant to these antibiotics. This strain is what we call methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Staphylococcus areus has only been initially resistant to penicillin because it produces β-lactamase that inhibits the antibacterial function of the said antibiotic (Johnson, 2007). In the early 1960’s, as also reported by Johnson (2007), methicillin, a type of penicillin antibiotic was introduced and was effective against these strains of Staphylococcus areus that were resistant to penicillin. Methicillin was not affected by β-lactamase. However, after a short while, the organism also developed a strain that became resistant to the once effective drug, thus the name methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus areus. This strain is also resistant to newer antibiotics but still adapted the same name. There are two types of MRSA- healthcare-associated MRSA and community-associated MRSA. Hospital-acquired MRSA is an infection that is first developed or acquired in healthcare facilities and has been more prevalent than the latter. Individuals that are colonized with MRSA can easily spread the disease with other patients in the hospital. There are a lot more at-risk persons in healthcare settings which makes it more prevalent, especially if infection control measures are not implemented well. The most people at risk for harbouring the microorganism are those with weakened immune system, those that have prolonged hospital stay or with a history of prolonged hospital stay and/or multiple admissions, those that have undergone recent surgery, or those with foreign objects inserted in their body that makes it so much easier for the pathogen to gain entry. Not only can it be spread from patient to patient, but to healthcare workers as well, or worse, healthcare workers can be the carriers of the...
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