Bacterial Infections

Primary Bacteremia & Endocarditis

Staphylococci (both S aureus and CoNS) have emerged as the two most common organisms cultured from patients with primary bloodstream infections. The term “primary bacteremia” refers to positive blood cultures without an identifiable anatomic focus of infection. Differentiation of primary bacteremia from infective endocarditis (IE), in which infection of the cardiac valves leads to continuous bacterial seeding of the bloodstream, may challenge even the most experienced clinician. Primary S aureus bacteremia is associated with insulin-dependent diabetes, the presence of a vascular graft, and, most significantly, the presence of an indwelling intravascular catheter.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

The toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a heterogeneous complex of symptoms attributed to TSST-1 toxin-producing S aureus. Two variants have been described: menstruation-associated and nonmenstrual disease. Cases of menstruation-associated disease are correlated with the use of superabsorbent tampons.

Nonpyogenic Skin Infections

Impetigo and staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS) are primarily childhood diseases. More than 70% of cases of impetigo are caused by S aureus, with the remainder attributed to pyogenic streptococci or mixed infection. Impetigo begins as a scarlatiniform eruption in a previously traumatized area that blisters then ruptures to form a wet, honey-colored crust. Common sites for infection are the face and trunk.

Pyogenic Cutaneous Infections

S aureus is the leading bacterial cause of pyogenic skin lesions (Box 46-1). Folliculitis, infection of the hair follicles, is a local suppurative process causing indurated papules or pustules, often with a hair exiting from the center of the lesion. There is local erythema and tenderness, but the patient is not systemically ill.