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Ozzy's Deadly Infection Explained: "It Was Agony"

It could have been a lot worse. I could have been dead,” he told Rolling Stone.                 

Ozzy Osbourne is recovering from a potentially deadly infection he believes he may have gotten just from shaking a person’s hand.

The singer’s symptoms were so strange they left him “freaked out”: He was feeling fine, had no fever, but his right thumb suddenly swelled to “the size of a [expletive] lightbulb,” he told Rolling Stone

It happened after a concert in Salt Lake City, Utah, this month, prompting Osbourne to go to the emergency room.                         

“I didn’t feel sick, so I was cracking jokes,” he told the magazine. “The doctor said, ‘I don’t know if you realize, Mr. Osbourne, this is a very serious problem you have’… They’re all extremely, deadly serious about it.”

The diagnosis: three individual staph infections in his thumb, with one spreading to his middle finger.        

What is a staph infection?

Staph — shorthand for staphylococcus aureus — bacteria are some of the most common germs found on people’s skin and in their noses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bacteria often don’t cause any problems, but if a person has a small cut or some type of trauma, the germs can get inside the body, said Dr. Alex Viehman, an infectious disease physician at The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.                       

Can you get it from shaking hands?

Osbourne, 69, said that when he asked how he could have gotten the infection, the doctor replied: “Can you remember talking to someone and shaking hands?” When the singer explained he probably shakes the hands of 200 fans a day, the doctor said, “That explains it,” Osbourne recalled in the Rolling Stone account.                      

How do you prevent it?

Wash your hands frequently.

If you have any cuts, cover them up with a Band-Aid.

If you have a pimple or a boil, and it's getting bigger and you're feeling sick, see a doctor.                

What is the treatment and what did Ozzy have to go through?

In most cases, the infection resolves on its own or requires the patient take an antibiotic.

Some patients need to have the pressure released through surgical means. If the infection progresses to the bloodstream, a patient will need a longer course of antibiotics, Viehman said.

Osbourne had surgery — "It was agony," he recalled — took medicine and spent a few days in the hospital. His thumb is now fully recovered, the singer said in a video he posted on Instagram last week. After postponing a few tour dates, he’s philosophical about his health scare.

“It could have been a lot worse. I could have been dead,” he told Rolling Stone.

Story source: NBC's Today Show

Images: Ozzy Osbourne on Instagram

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