Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Font Size

New Vaccine for Staph Infections

WebMD Health News

Feb. 13, 2002 -- People with weakened immune systems are susceptible to attack by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. But a newly developed vaccine may soon protect hospitalized children, kidney dialysis patients, and other vulnerable populations from potentially deadly staph infections.

The nasty S. aureus bugs cause a host of problems -- from skin infections to life-threatening meningitis. And to make matters worse, some mutated strains can now withstand our most powerful antibiotics.

"Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can be life-threatening and are rapidly growing resistant to the antibiotics used to treat them," says Duane Alexander, MD, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "This new vaccine may provide a powerful new way to prevent the thousands of serious S. aureus infections that occur each year.

Over the past 15 years, John Robbins, MD, chief of NICHD's Laboratory of Developmental and Molecular Immunity, and colleagues methodically uncovered just how the bacteria successfully sidesteps a host's immune system to establish infection. Now, his team has used the information against the bug to develop an effective vaccine.

In the trial reported in the Feb. 14 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, they randomly assigned nearly 1,800 dialysis patients to receive either the vaccine or a harmless saline solution. Soon, the incidence of a particular staph infection called bacteremia began to fall in the vaccine group, but not in the saline group. When they checked each vaccinated patient's blood, they saw antibodies to S. aureus -- a sure sign that they could fight off an attack.

Antibody levels did begin falling after about the 40th week, however, which is not unusual in dialysis patients. The researchers are now looking at whether a booster dose of the vaccine will help keep antibody levels high.

"It is likely that the vaccine will be more effective in individuals with less depressed immune systems who are at risk for S. aureus infections, such as patients with chest and cardiac surgery and with joint replacements," Robbins said.

Today on WebMD

Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
itchy skin
shingles rash on skin
woman with skin tag
Woman washing face
woman washing her hair in sink
close up of womans bare neck
woman with face cream