Staphylococcus aureus (staph) is a type of bacteria that can cause infections. Staph bacteria normally live on the skin. They don't usually cause problems. They only become a problem when they cause infection. In most cases, you can treat this infection with antibiotics.
For some people, especially those who are weak or ill, staph infections can become serious. Sometimes staph bacteria can cause a widespread infection in the body.
Staph bacteria can be spread by touching a person or object. It is often spread from the hands of someone who has a staph infection.
In the hospital, staph infections are more likely to occur in wounds, burns, or places where there is a break in the skin or where tubes enter the body.
In the community, staph infections are more likely to occur among people who have cuts or wounds and who have close contact with one another.
Symptoms of a staph infection depend on where the infection is. If the infection is:
Staph infection is diagnosed based on a medical history and a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and your work and home environments.
The doctor will take a sample of your infected wound or a sample of blood, urine, or mucus (sputum) coughed up from the lungs. The sample is tested for staph bacteria. This test may take several days.
In some cases, imaging is done to look for signs of infection. For example, a chest X-ray can show a lung infection.
If you have a staph infection, your doctor may:
You may have to stay in the hospital for treatment. In the hospital, you may be kept apart from others. This is to reduce the chances of spreading the bacteria.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerElizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
Current as ofMarch 3, 2017
Current as of:
March 3, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
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Last modified on: 8 September 2017