The Michigan State University study, published in the April 15 online issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, is the first to identify the people most at risk for the infection, believed to kill thousands of people in the United States each year.
Identifying those most at risk lets doctors target them for therapy or prevention of staph infections.
The study included more than 250 people with invasive Staphylococcus aureus (ISA) infections. It found people undergoing hemodialysis are 257 times more likely to contract ISA than the general population.
Other people at high risk include those undergoing peritoneal dialysis, solid organ transplant recipients and people with HIV, cancer and heart disease.
Elderly patients, and those with renal failure, diabetes and lung problems were more likely to die from ISA, the study found.
Each year, more than 2 million hospital patients in the United States contract an ISA infection. The effects can be minor, but they can also be fatal. A vaccine for ISA is currently being tested. This study helps identify the people who should be at the top of the list for such a vaccine.
Here's where you can learn more about staph infections.