What is Staph
Staph is a general term for a group of common type of bacteria (Staphylococcus) that live on both people and animals. There are about 40 different types of Staph bacteria and several of them cause many different types of infections.
When people have a “Staph” infection, it’s typically caused by “Staphylococcus aureus” or Staph aureus (they both describe the same bacteria). Staph aureus is the more dangerous member of the Staph family because some can produce toxins making a more severe infection. Also making this bacteria more harmful is that Staph aureus can grow with or without oxygen, which enables it to move from skin infections where there is oxygen to internal infections where there is very little.
There are other types of Staph bacteria such as Staph epidermidis or Staph saprophyticus, but Staph aureus accounts for the most infections. Some Staph aureus infections, but not all, are also MRSA. MRSA is simply a Staph aureus bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. See “What is MRSA” for more information.
Staph aureus bacteria are frequently found on people’s skin as well as inside their nose and throat. These bacteria like warm and moist areas which is why infections around the nose, armpits, buttocks and groin are common. They mostly cause skin infections and are also responsible for some respiratory diseases, such as sinus infections or pneumonia.
The only way you can tell what type of Staph infection you have is for your doctor to get a culture test performed.