The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 50% of healthy people have the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria living on their skin or in their throat, nose, or throat. Without a way to enter the body (via a cut or mucus membrane opening), it does not cause an infection. However, if Staphylococcus aureus does penetrate the body’s barriers, it can result in serious infections such as pneumonia, endocarditis, or gastroenteritis for example, and although rare, has led to necrotizing fasciitis.
Microorganisms are present in the environment (soil, water, insects), and in and on the human body, with some being beneficial and others harmful. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the human body houses 10 times more bacterial cells than human ones, with around 10 trillion microorganisms residing in the gastrointestinal tract protecting the body from invasion by harmful ones.
An infection is the outcome of an invasion of the body by a microorganism (bacteria, virus, fungus) which then multiplies and spreads, and elicits a response from the body’s immune system. Some examples of microorganisms which can cause infections include Chlamydia, Influenza A/B, Eschericha coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis.
Infection tests aim to identify the microorganism that is causing an illness to enable appropriate treatment for the patient.
Many infections may start with general symptoms which reflect the immune system response such as:
Infection tests can use blood, urine, skin, nasal/tissue swabs, or stool samples to assess for the presence of specific microorganisms. Rupa Health offers a variety of testing panels such as:
A physical examination, a health history, and a compilation of symptoms can be helpful in determining the most appropriate infection test. A common blood count with differential can also be helpful, and depending on the outcome, additional testing for other potential microorganisms and using alternate types of sampling might be necessary. Identification of the microorganism will lead to determining the most suitable medication such as antibiotic for bacterial infection, antiviral for virus infection, and culture testing to pinpoint the most effective antibiotic.
Infection prevention would be the most optimal plan of care. The CDC deems hand hygiene to be one of the most effective means of preventing the spread of infections.
Some treatment plans can include: