Staph Infection & Probiotics

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Have you ever considered using probiotics, a week or two before hospital admittance? You may want to talk to your doctor to use such an option in order to protect yourself from the high risk of staph infection.

Nowadays, we often hear of the big infection problem faced by patients in hospitals all over the world. The term “Staph Infection” is regarded a major cause of morbidity and mortality, feared by many who consider hospital admittance, patients on recovery from serious surgery, or others hospitalized for various health issues, who unfortunately may end up with fatal complications due to MRSA.

The acronym MRSA stands for Multi-drug (or methicillin or multiple) Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This bacterium, often infects wounds and is difficult to treat because of its resistance to the methicillin antibiotic treatment or other drugs in this class.

It is a Gram-positive, round-shaped bacterium, and it is a member of the normal flora of the body, frequently found in the nose, respiratory tract, and on the skin. The infection is caused by either direct infection or by the production of toxins by the bacteria and can result in a multitude of diseases. Oftentimes, such infection on immune-compromised patients within a hospital setting, can lead to fatal complications.

This problem has no easy solutions. It is a drug-resistant infection oftentimes affecting immune-compromised patients. The question then arises, what if instead of relying on strong medications alone, with all their additional risks and side effects, we also use other strains of bacteria to fight MRSA head on – probiotics in particular. After all probiotics are known to contribute to a more robust immune system.

A few years ago, there was an interesting meta-analysis study on probiotic efficacy in decolonization or treatment of MRSA infection. Initial, in vitro experiments demonstrated that Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei commercial strains exhibit antibacterial activity against clinical MRSA isolates:

“The most active strains were Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Propionibacterium freudenreichii, Propionibacterium acnes, Lactobacillus paracasei, L. acidophilus, L. casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactococcus lactis. Their effects were mediated both by direct cell competitive exclusion as well as production of acids or bacteriocin-like inhibitors. L. acidophilus also inhibited S. aureus biofilm formation and lipase production. In vitro antimicrobial activity did not necessarily assure efficacy in vivo in animal infectious models, e.g. S. aureus 8325-4 was most sensitive in vitro to L. acidophilus, whilst in vivo Bifidobacterium bifidum best inhibited experimental intravaginal staphylococcosis in mice. On the other hand, L. plantarum, which showed the highest inhibition activity against S. aureus in vitro, was also very effective topically in preventing skin wound infection with S. aureus in mice. Very few clinical data were found on the interactions between probiotics and MRSA, but the few identified clinical cases pointed to the feasibility of elimination or reduction of MRSA colonization with probiotic use.”

Recently, there was an opportunity to revisit the probiotic approach with a sharper focus. This time, the clinical study was on 113 human subjects who underwent a 4-week treatment with Lactobacillus rhamnosus. The study, published on March 14, 2018, demonstrated the following:

“The probiotic and placebo groups were similar in age, gender, and health history at baseline. S. aureus colonization within the stool samples of the extra-GI group was 15% lower in the probiotic than placebo group at the endpoint of the trial. Those in the probiotic group compared to the placebo group had 73% reduced odds (OR 0.27, 95% CI 0.07-0.98) of methicillin-susceptible S. aureus presence, and 83% reduced odds (OR 0.17, 95% CI 0.04-0.73) of any S. aureus presence in the stool sample at endpoint.”

Maybe, an ounce of prevention beforehand, like starting on a quality fortified probiotic regimen before hospital admission, is worth a pound of cure, as they say. Talk to your attending physicians. Alert them to the full range of options and plan for a better outcome together.

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