Staph infection symptoms can be hard to beat, and risk high—antibiotic resistant strains can leave you in the hospital for months, and if not caught early infection symptoms can spread to deep layers of the skin, blood, or other parts of the body.

But are they ever really cured?

You may get rid of infection symptoms, but the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus may stick around for decades… waiting to infect a new cut, puncture, or other wound to the skin, or waiting for your defenses to drop.

Age often weakens the immune system, and it’s not an uncommon trigger for a return of staph infection symptoms. A recent letter in the New England Journal Of Medicine describes the return of infection symptoms (3 years ago) in the leg of an 85 year old woman, who first experienced staph in 1934.

While it can’t be definitively proven that the strain comes from 1934, the evidence supports it: infection symptoms recurred in exactly the same spot, and the staph had no antibiotic resistance, it could be treated with penicillin (what you’d expect from a strain before antibiotics were widely used) or any other antibiotic. And it’s not unusual for staph not to go away, even when the infection symptoms are cured.

It’s a reminder to keep the immune system strong, and to continue to take good care of ourselves even when the worst seems over.

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