Staph Infection
(Staphylococcus aureus)

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Staph infection facts

  • Staphylococcus is group of bacteria that can cause a multitude of diseases.
  • Staph infections may cause disease due to direct infection or due to the production of toxins by the bacteria. Boils, impetigo, food poisoning, cellulitis, and toxic shock syndrome are all examples of diseases that may be caused by Staphylococcus.
  • Symptoms and signs of a localized Staph infection usually include a collection of pus, such as a boil, furuncle, or abscess. The area is typically tender or painful and may be reddened and swollen.
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, is a type of Staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin and other drugs in this class.
  • Staph infections are treated with topical, oral, or intravenous antibiotics, depending upon the type of infection.

What is Staphylococcus?

Staphylococcus is a group of bacteria that can cause a number of diseases as a result of infection of various tissues of the body. Staphylococcus is more familiarly known as Staph (pronounced "staff"). Staph-related illness can range from mild and requiring no treatment to severe and potentially fatal.

The name Staphylococcus comes from the Greek staphyle, meaning a bunch of grapes, and kokkos, meaning berry, and that is what Staph bacteria look like under the microscope, like a bunch of grapes or little round berries. (In technical terms, these are gram-positive, facultative anaerobic, usually unencapsulated cocci.)

Over 30 different types of Staphylococci can infect humans, but most infections are caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococci can be found normally in the nose and on the skin (and less commonly in other locations) of around 25%-30% of healthy adults and in 25% of hospital workers. In the majority of cases, the bacteria do not cause disease. However, damage to the skin or other injury may allow the bacteria to overcome the natural protective mechanisms of the body, leading to infection.

Picture of a Staph infection
What does a Staph infection look like?
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/11/2014

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Staph Infection - Length Symptoms Lasted Question: How long did the symptoms of your staph infection (staphylococcus aureus) last?
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Staph Infection - Antibiotic Resistant Question: Were you, a friend, or relative diagnosed with MRSA? Please describe your experience with antibiotic resistant Staph aureus.
Read about causes, symptoms, and treatment of MRSA infections.

Superbug Staph Spread in Community

CA-MRSA infections have increased dramatically in the U.S. since the mid-1990s.

Community-associated MRSA infections usually affect the skin, causing pimples and boils in otherwise healthy people. Infected areas may be red, swollen, painful, and have pus or other drainage.


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