Skip to Content

Vancomycin Intermediate Staphylococcus Aureus Infection


  • Vancomycin intermediate staphylococcus (staf-i-lo-KOK-us) aureus (VISA) infection is a condition caused by bacteria (germs). This infection occurs when bacteria, called Staphylococcus aureus or Staph, becomes resistant (not killed) to the antibiotic medicine vancomycin. With VISA infection, the wrong or frequent use of vancomycin causes the Staph bacteria to become resistant. You may need a higher dose of vancomycin to stop the growth of Staph. This is usually 4 to 8 times the minimum amount. Since vancomycin may no longer be effective, VISA may cause severe infections in the body. These may include infections of the skin, blood, lungs, heart, and brain.
  • Common signs and symptoms of VISA infection include a high fever, body weakness, cough, or troubled breathing. You may also have pus coming from an infected wound or tube. VISA infection can be diagnosed by doing cultures of wound discharge (pus) or secretions (mucus) from the nose. Cultures may also be done by using your blood, urine, or sputum (spit). Treatment may include antibiotic medicines, incision and drainage, and surgery. It is important to follow good personal hygiene like frequent hand washing to prevent the spread of VISA infection. With proper treatment, you have a greater chance of having a full recovery. Ask your caregiver for more information about these tests and treatments.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • VISA infection is a rare but serious, life-threatening disease, and proper treatment should not be delayed. If not treated early and correctly, VISA infection can make you very sick. The bacteria (germs) could infect your skin and spread to your blood and other organs. VISA infection may badly damage your heart, brain, or kidneys, and lead to organ failure. Organ failure means your body organs cannot work well enough to get oxygen to the cells of your body.
  • Sometimes, treatment for VISA infection may cause unwanted side effects. Medicines may cause nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), or skin rashes. You may need stronger or multiple antibiotics or surgery to treat your infection and other problems. These antibiotics may cause kidney or liver damage. Ask your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your infection, medicine, or care.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Intake and output:

Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.


You may be given the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.


You may be put on isolation safety measures if you have an infection or disease that may be given to others. Caregivers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, or a gown. Visitors should wash their hands before leaving to keep from spreading germs.


You may have any of the following:

  • Blood and urine tests: Samples of your blood or urine are collected and sent to a lab for tests.
  • Cultures: Cultures are done by taking samples from your skin, wound discharge (pus), or secretions (mucus) from the nose. Your blood, urine, or sputum (spit) may also be cultured. These are sent to a lab where bacteria (germs) are allowed to grow to check for your VISA infection. Caregivers may also test which antibiotic would be the most effective in treating your infection.
  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection like pneumonia, or to look for collapsed lungs. Chest x-rays may show tumors, broken ribs, or fluid around the heart and lungs.

Treatment options:

You may need any of the following:

  • Incision and drainage Caregivers may drain the fluid or pus that has collected in your infected area.
  • Surgery: Surgery may also be done depending on where and how bad your infection is. This may be more likely if you have metal implants in your body. VISA likes to live on and around metal implants, and especially in artificial heart valves. You may also need surgery if your antibiotic is not working. Ask your caregiver for more information about having surgery in treating VISA infection.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Vancomycin Intermediate Staphylococcus Aureus Infection (Inpatient Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex