STIR: Staphylococcal Toxin Immune Response

Staphylococcus aureus, also known as “Staph” is a germ that is commonly found on the skin or in the nose of approximately one third of normal, healthy people. The Staph germ may cause skin infections, such as boils or abscesses. Rarely, the Staph germ can cause a more serious infection such as pneumonia or an infection in a bone or joint. Currently, we do not know why or how the Staph germ causes different infections in different people.

In the last several years, St. Louis has experienced an increase in the number of patients with Staph infections that are resistant to the usual antibiotics used to treat skin and soft tissue infections. The Staphylococcal Toxin Immune Response (STIR) study is interested in understanding how the immune system responds to the Staph germ living on the skin or causing an infection.

Who is eligible to participate?

  • All patients ages 6 months to 21 years of age presenting with one or more of the following: Staph colonization (the Staph germ living on the skin or in the nose)
  • Abscess caused by Staph
  • Invasive infection caused by Staph (for example, pneumonia or a bone, joint, or bloodstream infection)

Who is not eligible to participate?

  • Patients with a permanent indwelling catheter or percutaneous medical device
  • Patients with an infection at the site of a recent surgery or wound
  • Patients on dialysis or who stayed in a long term care facility over the past year

Participants in our study will fall into one of four groups:

  1. Children who have the Staph germ living on their skin
  2. Children who are experiencing their first skin abscess
  3. Children who are presenting with a recurrent abscess (i.e. have had a skin abscess in the past)
  4. Children with an active Staph invasive infection

What will happen at the time of enrollment?

  • Written consent from the participant’s parent or legal guardian to participate will be obtained
  • Information about the participants’ colonization status will be collected by swabbing the nose, armpit and groin
  • A small amount of blood (about 1 teaspoon) will be drawn
    • The blood is necessary to know how the child’s immune system is responding to the infection
    • If the participant is already having blood drawn, we will obtain the blood at that time without the need for an additional needle stick!

Will I need to return to the hospital?

  • After the enrollment visit, Groups 2 through 4 will return to St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 4-8 weeks to have their blood drawn again. This is to see how the patient’s immune system has responded to the recent infection. At this time, a member of the STIR Study team will also repeat the colonization swabs and administer a short survey.
    • All participants will be compensated $30 for their time and travel
    • The STIR Study will try to coordinate this visit if you have an appointment with another physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital

How long will my child be followed in this study?

  • Participants will be contacted through mail or e-mail to complete a short survey about any recurring Staph infections
    • Participants will receive 4 surveys (one every 3 months) over a 1 year period of time
    • All participants will receive a $5 gift card for each completed survey

Again, the STIR Study is trying to research how the immune system responds in different people with a Staph infection.


If you have questions about this study or are interested in participation, please contact us:
Voice: 314-747-0655