What is the Difference Between Staph and Golden Staph

The main difference between Staph and golden staph is that staph refers to Staphylococcus aureus, which causes a wide variety of clinical diseases, whereas golden staph refers to MRSA, a drug-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus.

Staph and golden staph are two pathogenic bacteria. They are Gram-positive, spherical-shaped bacteria.  

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Staph
– Definition, Features, Importance
2. What is Golden Staph
– Definition, Features, Importance
3. Similarities Between Staph and Golden Staph
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Staph and Golden Staph
– Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Golden Staph, MRSA, Staph, Staphylococcus aureus,

Difference Between Staph and Golden Staph - Comparison Summary

What is Staph

Staphylococcus aureus is a major human bacterial pathogen that causes a wide variety of diseases. Infections of S. aureus are common both in community-acquired as well as hospital-acquired settings, and treatment remains challenging to manage due to the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains such as MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus). In addition, S. aureus occurs in the environment and also occurs in normal human flora, located on the skin and mucous membranes (most often the nasal area) of most healthy individuals. Normally, S. aureus does not cause infection on healthy skin; however, if it enters the bloodstream or internal tissues, these bacteria may cause a variety of potentially serious infections. Transmission is typically from direct contact. However, some infections involve other transmission methods.

Compare Staph and Golden Staph

Figure 1: Staphylococcus Aureus

Furthermore, S. aureus commonly occurs in the upper respiratory tract and in the skin. Therefore, it is commensal in the human microbiota. However, it may become an opportunistic pathogen, being a common cause of skin infections, including abscesses, respiratory infections such as sinusitis, and food poisoning. 

What is Golden Staph

Golden staph refers to the MRSA that produces significantly yellow/golden color pus. MRSA is the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is resistant to the β-lactam antibiotic, methicillin. MRSA infections can be either hospital-related or community-related. Therefore, the risk factors of MRSA include:

  • Hospital stays
  • Use of invasive medical devices
  • Skin-to-skin contact
  • Overcrowded and unsanitary environments
  • HIV infection
  • Injected drug abuse
  • High prevalence of sexual activity
Staph vs Golden Staph

Figure 2: MRSA

The symptoms of MRSA infections include:

  • Severe skin infections
  • Pneumonia in the lungs
  • Bacterial infections of the heart
  • Infections in surgical sites
  • Infections in bones and joints

Treating MRSA is challenging because many antibiotics are no longer effective against MRSA. However, alternative antibiotics can be potentially effective. Vancomycin can be prescribed for complex skin infections, catheter infections, bone infections, bacteremia, and pneumonia. Moreover, clindamycin and linezolid are effective against superficial skin infections and pneumonia. However, maintaining good personal hygiene, avoiding sharing personal items, covering skin lacerations, and regular sterilization are helpful for the prevention of MRSA.

Similarities Between Staph and Golden Staph

  • Staph and golden staph are two types of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
  • They are Gram-positive bacteria.
  • Also, they are spherical shaped.
  • They are pathogenic bacteria that cause diseases.

Difference Between Staph and Golden Staph


Staph refers to a gram-positive bacterium that causes a wide variety of clinical diseases. In contrast, golden staph refers to a drug-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus.


Staph is Staphylococcus aureus, while golden staph is MRSA.


Staph causes infections in the skin and upper respiratory tract, while golden staph produces yellow/gold color pus.


In brief, staph and golden staph are two Staphylococcus aureus types. They are gram-positive bacteria that are spherical in shape. Both are pathogenic. Staph refers to the Staphylococcus aureus that causes diseases in the skin and the upper respiratory tract. in comparison, golden staph is MRSA that is resistant to methicillin. Significantly, t produces yellow/golden color pus. Therefore, the main difference between staph and golden staph is their significance.

  1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (n.d.). Staph infections. Mayo Clinic. 
  2. Department of Health & Human Services. (2000, September 14). Staphylococcus aureus – golden staph. Better Health Channel. 
Image Courtesy:
  1. 20101017 231210 Staphylococcus” By Bob Blaylock – Own work (CC-BY SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (8423119167) ” By NIAID – Own Work (CC-BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

Leave a Reply