Our Skin is Making Us Sick: Newly Discovered Bacteria that is Causing Antibiotic Resistance in Post-Surgical Patients

By Shruti Sagar

Researchers at the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath have discovered that Staphylococcus epidermidis, like MRSA, is an apparent cause of post-surgical life-threatening infections. Post-surgical infections can be incredibly serious and sometimes fatal. To identify the specific genes that allow what is normally harmless skin bacterium to cause life-threatening infections, the researchers took the skin samples of patients who suffered infections after hip or knee surgeries and compared them to skin samples of healthy volunteers. By comparing genetic variations in the genomes of these samples, they pinpointed 61 genes in the post-surgical samples that were not present in the healthy samples. These genes are so dangerous because they have the ability to help the bacteria grow and replicate through the bloodstream, avoid immune response, and make the cell surface sticky so that organisms can form biofilms that eventually cause resistance to antibiotics. Post-surgical infections are extremely difficult to diagnose and pinpoint, so being able to refer back to the disease-associated genes is very helpful in being able to identify who is highest at risk for infection prior to undergoing surgery in the first place.  Once they find out who is most at risk of infection, researchers and doctors can design interventions with the purpose of increasing hygiene measures and sanitation protocols in these populations before they undergo surgery.


University of Bath. (2018, November 28). The potentially deadly bacterium that's on everyone's skin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 9, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181128082753.htm