Staph Exposure While Pregnant

Pregnant doctor
Potential staph exposure need not exclude expectant women from health care settings. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Exposure to staph infections may be hard for you to avoid, and the prevalence of hard to treat methicillin-resistant staph aureus, or MRSA, makes reducing your risk increasingly important. However, even MRSA is treatable during pregnancy. Staph bacteria is prevalent in places such as locker rooms, gyms and hospitals. If you frequent high-risk places, or if a family member has a staph infection, then you may have been exposed.

Minimizing Risk

Meticulous hygiene can reduce your infection risk. Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds in very warm water with strong soap. Wear rubber gloves when you touch or clean surfaces touched by infected people. Any time infection is suspected, avoid contact with linens, bandages and dishes. Hospitals and nursing homes carry high risk of staph expsoure, but other crowded gatherings also may increase your risk, so plan to wash your hands frequently or carry hand sanitizer. Wear rubber gloves if you must touch infected materials. In addition, use bandages to cover any cuts you may have as a skin infection is easier to treat than one that enters your body through a cut.

Danger to the Baby

Fear of taking medications during pregnancy might cause you to consider delaying treatment, especially since staph does not appear to directly harm your unborn baby. However, an untreated staph infection can become dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening, if it enters your bloodstream. Staph can cause pneumonia if it enters your lungs, depriving both you and your baby of needed oxygen. In addition, your baby will be vulnerable to catching your untreated infection after birth.

Staph Infection Symptoms

Whether or not you know you have been exposed to staph, see your doctor if you develop an irritated red skin rash, especially one that features puss-filled blisters. Contact with some who is later diagnosed with staph warrants a call to your doctor on what to look for. Watch for a fever accompanying your rash and any instances of family members developing the same rash. Some patients describe MRSA as a spider bite that won't heal. Staph can also cause food poisoning, so report vomiting and diarrhea if you suspect you've been exposed.

Treatment

Most staph infections are easily treated with antibiotics. Treatment usually consists of a course of penicillin, which is considered safe during pregnancy, according to Roger W. Harms, M.D., in an article for MayoClinic.com. Resistant strains of staph, called MRSA, are safely treated during pregnancy with stronger antibiotics such as Clindamycin. Patients who are allergic to penicillin can also be treated with Clindamycin. Be sure to tell your doctor you are pregnant before starting treatment for a staph infection as some treatments, such as tetracycline, pose significant risks to both you and your unborn child.

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