Staphylococcus aureus in Healthcare Settings
General Information about Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus aureus [staf I lō-kok is aw ree us] (staph), is a type of bacteria that about 30% of people carry in their noses. Most of the time, staph does not cause any harm; however, sometimes staph causes infections. In healthcare settings, these infections can be serious or fatal, including:
- Bacteremia or sepsis when bacteria spread to the bloodstream.
- Pneumonia, which predominantly affects people with underlying lung disease including those on mechanical ventilators.
- Endocarditis (infection of the heart valves), which can lead to heart failure or stroke.
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection), which can be caused by staph bacteria traveling in the bloodstream or put there by direct contact such as following trauma (puncture wound of foot or intravenous (IV) drug abuse).
Staph bacteria can also become resistant to certain antibiotics. These drug-resistant staph infections include: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA), and Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA).
Populations at risk for Staphylococcus aureus infection
Anyone can develop a staph infection, although certain groups of people are at greater risk, including people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, vascular disease, eczema, and lung disease. In a healthcare setting, the risk of more serious staph infection is higher because patients often have weakened immune systems or have undergone procedures such as surgery or have intravenous catheters.
- Page last reviewed: January 17, 2011
- Page last updated: January 17, 2011
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