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Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium commonly found on the skin and in the nose of about 30% of individuals. Most of the time, staph does not cause any harm. These infections can look like pimples, boils, or other skin conditions and most are able to be treated. Sometimes staph bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause serious infections which can be fatal, including:
- Bacteremia or sepsis when bacteria spread to the bloodstream usually as a result of using catheters or having surgery.
- 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.
- 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).
- METHICILLIN-RESISTANT STAPHYLOCOCCUS AREUS (MRSA)
- SYMPTOMS OF MRSA
- SEVERE INFECTIONS
- SKIN INFECTIONS
Another form of Staphylococcus Aureus is Methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) which is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics called beta-lactams. These antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin. In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections. More severe or potentially life-threatening MRSA infections occur most frequently among patients in healthcare settings. While 25% to 30% of people are colonized* in the nose with staph, less than 2% are colonized with MRSA (Gorwitz RJ et al. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2008:197:1226-34.).
As with all regular staph infections, recognizing the signs and receiving treatment for MRSA skin infections in the early stages reduces the chances of the infection becoming severe.
MRSA in healthcare settings usually causes more severe and potentially life-threatening infections, such as bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, or pneumonia. The signs and symptoms will vary by the type and stage of the infection.
In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections that may appear as pustules or boils which often are red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. They often first look like spider bites or bumps that are red, swollen, and painful. These skin infections commonly occur at sites of visible skin trauma, such as cuts and abrasions, and areas of the body covered by hair (e.g., back of neck, groin, buttock, armpit, beard area of men).
Vancomycin [van−kō−mī−sin]-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus [staff−u−lu−kaw−kus aw−ree−us] (also called VISA) and Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (also called VRSA) are specific types of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. However, as of October 2010, all VISA and VRSA isolates have been susceptible to other Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs. Persons who develop this type of staph infection may have underlying health conditions (such as diabetes and kidney disease), tubes going into their bodies (such as catheters), previous infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and recent exposure to vancomycin and other antimicrobial agents.
*Note: This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format (PDF). The free Acrobat Reader may be required to view these files.
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