Climbing Related Staph Infections


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Trad climber
BackInTheDitch BackInTheDirt BackInTheDay
Dec 7, 2012 - 05:39pm PT
This is a fascinating talk which sheds light on how we can have pathogenic bacteria on and in our bodies but other bacteria keep them at bay. Great new insights into immunity.



Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 7, 2012 - 05:40pm PT
Not exactly Climbing Related, but Falling (while climbing) Related:

I broke my leg (and other stuff) back in 1978, and eventually had a tubular rod inserted to skewer my tibia together. The rod was a little too long and eventually broke through the skin below my kneecap. Got a non-MR SA there, fixed with IV antibiotics.

My friend/partner Steph broke her leg (more badly) a couple of years ago and had it put together with a plate and screws. An open wound resulted in a MRSA, so they had to jerk out all the hardware and she got a central line (perma-IV from armpit to just above heart, where the blood flux is enough to handle the toxic antibacterial) for awhile - sounded pretty nasty. Fortunately the bones had healed together just enough at that point so she didn't have to get a new plate/screws.

Dec 7, 2012 - 05:41pm PT
I got a staph infection in my finger last year while putting up a new route in Patagonia. I was amazed at the speed in wich the infection came on. It went from being kinda red and irritated to a giant swollen looking grape in under 24hrs. Definitely one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. I started to get another infection in a different finger only a couple weeks after my first infection but treated with anti-biotics before it got to out of hand.

Credit: mikeyschaefer

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Dec 7, 2012 - 06:47pm PT
Some folks don't get those. I've had thousands of cuts & scrapes, gobies, & what not, & I never worry about them. Tape it up & drive on. If it kills me, then I'll be dead.

Well, up until I got the infection, I would have said the same thing. And with 50+ years of climbing in at the time, and with a totally cavalier attitude towards minor wounds, I'm guessing I ignored a lot more cuts and scrapes.

The docs were very close to operating on my elbow. If the infection got too far, it would have meant amputation of my arm, so note that there are unpleasant eventualities short of death. Even without that outcome, there was a real possibility of reduced function after the operation, that would have made climbing much harder and conceivably impossible.

None of this came to pass; the antibiotics finally worked. And I'm not now even close to fanatic about cleaning, triming, irrigating, and bandaging minor wounds. But a little squirt of Bactine or some other easily-carried topical antiseptic, very soon after the injury, seems like a reasonable precaution that can't hurt and might just make a difference.

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Dec 7, 2012 - 07:01pm PT
mtn biking = road rash city if you ride full shred.

hot bath and a small bottle of booze, get a buzz and then grab a toothbrush and some soap scrub the hell out of the gash, pour a little booze on it if there is any left,

then add hi priced fda certified grease,

be careful getting out of the tub, i passed out once and fell straight back into the water which broke my fall except my head which bounced off the white porcelan like a ripe coconut,
could have drowned but all the water was on the floor,
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 7, 2012 - 07:04pm PT
For cuts and scrapes to hands and wrists, simple thorough hand washing always pays off, whether it's in terms of infection, GI disease, or otherwise. Dirt bagging is fine, but clean hands once or twice a day are a good thing. I always volunteer to wash dishes in camp, and do a thorough job of them, and my hands.

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Dec 7, 2012 - 07:09pm PT
if you are a true dirtbagger then you automatically will be immune to 98 percent of normal human afflictions, there will be crap under your fingernails from relieving yourself third world style, there will be crust on your nut sack from not having had a shower in 3 years, but think of all the TP these guys save, ive been classified as a "carrier" so no more gym.

Trad climber
Dec 7, 2012 - 07:32pm PT
A few months ago I was climbing at Stoney Point and decided to play around on the off width left of the beehive. I normally tape up but didn't this time. After a few laps I called it a day but not before thoroughly trashing my hands. I noticed some old blood dried on the inside of the crack while climbing it but chalked up and carried on, it did cross my mind that this may cause issues with infection but ignored my hunch. Big mistake. I have never had such infected and painful sores from climbing than I did from the ones I received that day. They took forever to heal and required antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Unless unavoidable I will be taping up from now on, it just ain't worth it.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 7, 2012 - 07:39pm PT
How long can blood, outside the body, remain an epidemiological hazard? That is, before exposure to weather and sun (UV) render it neutral? What about other human products? Is there an epidemiologist in the house who can help with this?

I suspect that we bring most of anything we get with us, e.g. our own skin bacteria getting ground in and so on. Or that we catch ambient bacteria that are in the soil, cracks etc naturally. But I'd happily learn more.
Captain...or Skully

Dec 7, 2012 - 09:32pm PT
I dunno, Rich. That's just how it seems to go.
So far so good, I guess.
Some of those things look heinous!
I haven't been in a Hosital since '95, when I got rescued.(arrggh)
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
Dec 7, 2012 - 09:43pm PT
I know of two individuals who have experienced similar infections, basicly destroying them for a good couple of years, then clearing up with treatment.

edit: I should be more clear. both times the infection was introduced in surgery, and both wound up effecting the patients central nervous system. It took much time to properly diagnose, leading to the long period of effect How that relates to your condition I don't know but when you said "spinal column" it raised a red flag. good luck with it.

Social climber
Dec 7, 2012 - 10:32pm PT
Thought it was common knowledge that, especially when climbing cracks, you're not just climbing with your partner. You are climbing with anyone who has climbed that crack before.

Ought to be a poster in the gyms' bathrooms.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Dec 8, 2012 - 12:58am PT
It's the same for any face hold in a climbing gym Gilroy.

I want to add some extra ick about what climbers touch. (a subject of it's own, HAHAHAHA)

Lots of guys have a piss in the change room during that awesome sesh at CliffWankers or any other climbing gym. They then sprint to the plastic and pull down.

What gets transferred from the change room urinal's floor to the climbing holds by way of climbing shoes ?

Hmmmmm... I think climbing gyms are fun but just like eating in a restaurant or going to a movie, suspended disbelief is best.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Dec 8, 2012 - 01:17am PT
How long can blood, outside the body, remain an epidemiological hazard? That is, before exposure to weather and sun (UV) render it neutral? What about other human products? Is there an epidemiologist in the house who can help with this?

I believe that hepatitis B has been found in an infectious state in egyptian mummies. It is very hard to kill.

Bacteria are easily killed, in contrast. usually minutes or hours.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Dec 8, 2012 - 01:26am PT
Just a comment on what a number of people have mentioned re: treatment of open wounds. Current thinking:

After stopping bleeding (direct pressure only),

Flush with water---lots. A gallon is a good amount. You want to flush the dirt out-that has more to do with whether there will be an infection of not. Urine actually works for this. Then,

Clean with plain soap and water. any soap. Shampoo or dish soap works.
Do not scrub, which causes more damage.

DO NOT POUR ANTISEPTIC CHEMICALS INTO THE WOUND. Iodine, alcohol, betadine, or anything else. they all have been PROVEN to INCREASE infections and delay healing.

topical antibiotic ointment...bacitratin probably best, then gauze.

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Dec 8, 2012 - 01:42am PT

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Dec 8, 2012 - 01:53am PT
After my steph infection (I got it in the gym, nothing serious, just 10 days on anibiotic) I carry a small can of liquid-aid. It is a really good product.

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Dec 8, 2012 - 02:00am PT
roadkillphil, I have extensive experience with Staph infections, Strep infections, Sepsis Syndrome, and full-blown Septic Shock (think, cumulatively over the last 55 years, maybe three years spent inpatient. I've never actually done the math.) Sounds like you'll be on the drip for some time. Are they going to cut you loose from the hospital with a PICC line in and use a home-health nursing service?
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Dec 8, 2012 - 02:39am PT
Ken M.

"Urine actually works for this".

Do you mean fresh from the font ? What about stuff picked up along the way and added to holds from shoes in a sticky mixture ?

I'm not being an ass about this. I have a WCB level 2 FA cert and I'm always trying to better understand guck and it's consequences.

Social climber
North Vancouver BC
Dec 8, 2012 - 02:57am PT
Mickeyshaefer, I sure like the pun, " treated before it got out of hand " with the accompanying photo. Good sick humour!
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