A staph skin infection develops when there is a break in the skin. A staph wound is highly contagious through skin-to-skin contact, particularly in crowded living situations or high contact sports.
People can also contract the bacteria by sharing towels, clothing, and razors, and it can spread from high-contact areas like door handles, athletic equipment, and remotes. Staph can survive on linens for days to weeks.
One study showed that staph could survive on dry surfaces for months.6 This highlights the importance of disinfecting surfaces and frequently washing your hands.
Staph infection of the digestive tract occurs after ingesting food that has the bacteria. The bacteria gets into the food from someone with unclean hands who has an infection. Cooking kills the bacteria, but there are toxins that stay in the food and cause stomach symptoms.
Staph pneumonia most often occurs in hospitalized people, those who recently had surgery, or with chronic health conditions like diabetes or a weakened immune system. The bacteria spread from medical equipment, bed rails, and unclean hands in healthcare settings.
Staph infection of the heart is often caused by injection drug use or sharing used needles. A severe staph blood infection can occur in this situation or when another more mild infection spreads out of control.
Keep Wounds Covered
People with a staph skin infection should keep any wounds covered until healed to avoid spreading the bacteria to other people and onto surfaces.
Limiting the Spread in Healthcare Facilities
Hospital systems have several policies and strategies in place to limit the spread of staph in their facilities.