New research from Denmark finds that people with diabetes are at three times greater risk than non-diabetics of developing a potentially fatal blood infection caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The study, “Diabetes and risk of community-acquired Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia: A population-based case-control study,” was published in the European Society of Endocrinology journal.
Staphylococcus aureus lives on the surface of human skin, in symbiosis, but once it enters the bloodstream can cause a deadly infection. In fact, according to the Aarhus University Hospital and Aalbor University Hospital University researchers, a 30-day death rate analysis found that 20 percent to 30 percent of Staphylococcus aureus infections are lethal.
The study was conducted by tracking the medical records of 30,000 individuals diagnosed with community acquired Staphylococcus aureus infections for the first time between 2000 and 2012. The teams assessed the staph infections’ progression according to several diabetes-related traits, such as time since diabetes’ diagnosis, glycemic control, and the presence of diabetes complications.
From their analysis, the researchers found that people with diabetes of any type have a three times greater risk of contracting Staphylococcus aureus blood infections than those without diabetes, largely due to decreased immunity or coexisting morbidities. This risk increased to more than seven times in type 1 diabetics, and was almost three times higher in those with type 2 diabetes.
According to the study, 95 percent of diabetics have type 2 disease, which is often associated with obesity and caused by the body’s inability to properly use insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows the body to metabolize sugar, providing energy to cells. The remaining 5 percent have type 1 diabetes, in which the body has lost the ability to produce insulin.
Diabetics with kidney-related or heart circulation problems, or diabetic ulcers, were at a fourfold higher risk of developing Staphylococcus aureus infections. A greater risk also correlated with increases in the number of years a person had diabetes, and was found in those with poor control of the disease.
“It has long been a common clinical belief that diabetes increases the risk of S. aureus infection, but until now this has been supported by scant evidence,”The study author, Jesper Smit, said in a press release. “Poor management of diabetes can lead to an impaired immune response. This may be the reason why diabetes patients are at higher risk of infection. Similarly, diabetic patients often suffer associated illnesses — the burden of multiple health care problems can also increase susceptibility to infection.”