Skin lesions in barracks: consider community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection instead of spider bites

Mil Med. 2006 Sep;171(9):830-2. doi: 10.7205/milmed.171.9.830.


Recent outbreaks of mysterious skin lesions on multiple personnel at several military facilities were initially blamed on spiders. Requests were made for pest inspection and control to remedy the situation. Greater scrutiny of the situation led to a hypothesis that instead of spiders, an infectious outbreak of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) should be investigated as the etiology. Subsequent culturing of the lesions on personnel at one facility confirmed this bacterial etiology. Barracks, as well as other close quarter military living conditions, are ripe environments for the establishment, persistence, and spread of CA-MRSA. Military medical personnel should consider CA-MRSA as a more likely etiologic agent than spider bites for cutaneous eruptions in which there are multiple lesions on one person or multiple patients with similar lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Hospitals, Military
  • Humans
  • Methicillin / pharmacology*
  • Methicillin Resistance*
  • Military Medicine*
  • Military Personnel
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spider Bites / diagnosis*
  • Spider Bites / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Skin Infections / diagnosis*
  • Staphylococcal Skin Infections / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcal Skin Infections / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • United States


  • Methicillin