A variety of factors — ranging from the status of your immune system to the types of sports you play — can increase your risk of developing staph infections.

Underlying health conditions

Certain disorders or the medications used to treat them can make you more susceptible to staph infections. People who may be more likely to get a staph infection include those with:

  • Diabetes who use insulin
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Kidney failure requiring dialysis
  • Weakened immune systems — either from a disease or medications that suppress the immunes system
  • Cancer, especially those who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation
  • Skin damage — from conditions such as eczema to insect bites or minor trauma that opens the skin
  • Respiratory illness, such as cystic fibrosis or emphysema

Current or recent hospitalization

Despite vigorous attempts to eradicate them, staph bacteria remain present in hospitals, where they attack the most vulnerable, including people with:

  • Weakened immune systems
  • Burns
  • Surgical wounds

Invasive devices

Staph bacteria can travel along the medical tubing that connects the outside world with your internal organs. Examples include:

  • Dialysis
  • Urinary catheters
  • Feeding tubes
  • Breathing intubation
  • Intravascular catheters

Contact sports

Staph bacteria can spread easily through cuts, abrasions and skin-to-skin contact. Staph infections may also spread in the locker room through sharing razors, towels, uniforms or equipment.

Unsanitary food preparation

Food handlers who don't properly wash their hands can transfer staph from their skin to the food they're preparing. Foods that are contaminated with staph look and taste like normal.

Jun. 11, 2014

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