Seasonal Flu and Staph Infection

Questions & Answers

Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as “staph,” are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Staph bacteria frequently cause skin infections, such as boils. Most of these infections are not life-threatening.

In addition to skin infections, staph bacteria can cause infections in the blood, in the bones, and in the lungs (pneumonia). In the past, most serious staph bacterial infections could be treated with an antibiotic related to penicillin. However, over the past 50 years, some staph bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, including the commonly used penicillin-related antibiotics. These resistant staph bacteria are called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

If I have had a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection or been told that I carry MRSA, am I at high risk for developing a serious MRSA infection if I get flu?

The overall risk of developing an MRSA infection after flu appears to be very low. However, CDC continues to work with state and local public health authorities to better understand this association.

What is being done about MRSA infections associated with flu?

CDC is working with state and local public health authorities to monitor and investigate infections with MRSA, including pneumonias and other types of MRSA infections that occur in patients with flu. CDC also acts as a technical advisor to state and local health departments and various professional organizations that are working to control MRSA.

How can I learn about preventing and treating MRSA skin infections?

Visit the CDC MRSA web site for more information about recognition, prevention and treatment of MRSA infections.