A Brief History of Staphylococcus Aureus


Years ago. I acquired an infection in my left eye socket caused by the bacteria. Staphylococcus Aureus my vision clouded and then. My eye socket swelled shut and I ended up hospitalized for over a week how I experienced the same infection anytime in history before nineteen forty. I would've likely lost. Not just my I but my life then again I wouldn't have ever lived to acquire orbital so you lights because I would have died of the staph infections I had in childhood. Stella Aureus is not a normal part of the human microbiome but many people perhaps around a third are like me. Nonetheless hosts two colonies of it on our skin or in our nasal passages or in our digestive systems. These colonies are usually harmless but while anyone can get sick with staff those of us who live omitted. Every day are more likely to suffer infections. When I was in the hospital the infectious disease. Doctors made me feel very special. One told me you are colonized by some fascinating Lee. Aggressive Staff He told me I wouldn't believe the petri dishes if I saw them and went on to call my continued existence. A real testament to modern medicine. Which I suppose it is for. People like myself colonized by fascinating. The aggressive bacteria there can be no harkening back wistfully to pass Golden Ages. Because in all those pasts I would be dead in. Nineteen forty one. Boston city hospital reported in eighty two percent fatality rate. For staph infections. I remember as a child hearing phrases like only the strong survive and survival of the fittest and feeling terrified by them. Because I knew I was not fit or strong. I didn't yet know that when humanity protects the frail among us and works to ensure their survival the human project as a whole get stronger failing to understand that has held our species back for Millennia and in fact still does because staff often infects open wounds. It has been especially deadly during war near the beginning of world. War One. The English poet Rupert Brooke Famously wrote if I should die. Think only this of me that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever. England Brookwood indeed die in the war in the winter of nineteen fifteen but not in some corner of a foreign field but instead on a hospital ship of a bacterial infection by then there were of course. Thousands of doctors treating the war's wounded and ill among them was a seventy one year old. Scottish surgeon Alexander Ogden who decades earlier had discovered and named Staphylococcus Ogden who sported a magnificent moustache throughout his adult. Life was a huge fan of Joseph. Lister WHO's observations about post surgical infection led to the use of carbolic acid and other sterilization techniques these dramatically increased surgical survival rates. In fact after visiting lister and learning from Him Ogden returned to his hospital in Aberdeen and tore down the sign above the operating room that read prepare to meet the God. No would surgery. Be a desperate last ditch effort. It could be safe and clean and survivable. Ogden was so obsessed with listers carbolic acid spray that his students wrote a poem about it. The spray the spray the antiseptic spray. A would shower it morning night and day for every sort of scratch where others would attach a sticking plaster patch. He gave the spray. It's all right but it's no Rupert Brooke. At any rate Ogden had good reason to give the spray. His first wife Mary. Jane had died after childbirth a few years earlier at the age of twenty five. There's no record her cause death but most maternal deaths at the time were caused by postpartum infection often due to staphylococcus aureus and dogs had hundreds of his patients die of post surgical infection so no wonder he was obsessed with antiseptic protocols. Still he wanted to understand not just how to prevent infection but also what precisely was causing it by the late. Eighteen seventies many discoveries were being made by surgeons and researchers about various bacteria and their role in infection but staphylococcus was not identified until Austin lanced a pus filled abscessed leg wound belonging to one James Davidson. Under the microscope. Davidson's abscess was brimming with life. Ogden wrote my delight may be conceived when there were revealed to me beautiful tangles tufts and chains of round organisms in great numbers. Ogden named these tufts and chains staphylococcus from the Greek word for bunches of grapes and they do often look like grape bunches plump and just a little bit oblong and also quite yellowish green. A few years later a German scientist noted that there were in fact several species of staphylococcus and named the one Ogden had found Staphylococcus Aureus or the golden staff but Ogden wasn't content with just seeing the bacteria. Obviously he wrote the first step to be taken was to make sure the organisms found. In Mr Davidson's pus were not there by chance. So he set up a laboratory in the shed behind his house and began trying to grow colonies of staff eventually succeeding by growing them. In the medium of a chicken egg he then injected the bacteria into guinea pigs and wild mice which became violently ill. Ogden also noted that staphylococcus seemed to be quote harmless on the surface despite being quote so deleterious when injected I have also observed this in so far as I am not much bothered by having my skin colonized by Staphylococcus Aureus but find it. Dilatot serious indeed when it starts replicating inside my eye socket. James Davidson by the way went on to live another forty years after his staph infection. Thanks to a thorough deriding and Ogden's liberal use of the spray the spray the antiseptic spray but staphylococcus aureus remained an exceptionally dangerous infection until another Scottish scientist Alexander. Fleming discovered penicillin by accident. Actually one Monday morning in nineteen twenty eight Fleming notice that one of his cultures of Staphylococcus aureus had been contaminated by a fungus penicillin them which seemed to have killed all the STAPH BACTERIA. He remarked allowed. That's funny Fleming. Then used what? He called his mould juice. I wish I were making that up to treat. Couple patients including during his assistance. Sinus infection but mass production of the antibiotic substance secreted by. Penicillin proved very challenging. It wasn't until the late nineteen thirties. That a group of scientists at Oxford began testing their penicillin stocks. I on mice and then in nineteen forty one on a human subject. A policeman named Albert Alexander who'd been cut by shrapnel during a German bombing raid and who was dying of bacterial infections in his case both staphylococcus aureus and streptococcus. The penicillin caused a dramatic improvement in Alexander's condition but the researchers didn't have enough of the drug to save him. The infections returned and Alexander died in April of nineteen forty one. His seven-year-old daughter Sheila ended up in a local orphanage. Scientists began to seek out more productive strains of the mold and eventually found one on a cantaloupe in a Peoria Illinois grocery store that strain eventually became even more productive after being exposed to x rays and ultraviolet radiation. But essentially all penicillin. In the world descends from that mold on that one cantaloupe in Peoria. That's not the astounding thing about the story though the astounding thing is that after scraping off the mold that became the world's supply of penicillin the scientists in question eight the rest of the cantaloupe

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