Bacteria under Microscope

Vancomycin intermediate resistant
Staphylococcus aureus (VISA)

Staphylococcus aureus   
                         microscopy, sem, high magnification
This scanning electron micrograph (SEM) shows a strain of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria taken from a vancomycin intermediate resistant culture (VISA). Magnified 20 000×.

Staph bacteria are classified as VISA or VRSA based on laboratory tests. Laboratories perform tests to determine if staph bacteria are resistant to antimicrobial agents that might be used for treatment of infections. For vancomycin and other antimicrobial agents, laboratories determine how much of the agent it requires to inhibit the growth of the organism in a test tube. The result of the test is usually expressed as a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) or the minimum amount of antimicrobial agent that inhibits bacterial growth in the test tube. Therefore, staph bacteria are classified as VISA if the MIC for vancomycin is 4-8g/ml, and classified as VRSA if the vancomycin MIC is >16g/ml.
Text&Photo CDC, Public Health Image Library (PHIL)
This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions.
Public Health Image Library (PHIL)


Gram-positive cocci


Microscopic appearance:

Cocci in clusters


Clinical significance:

  • VISA and VRSA are specific types of antimicrobial-resistant staph bacteria. While most staph bacteria are susceptible to the antimicrobial agent vancomycin some have developed resistance. VISA and VRSA cannot be successfully treated with vancomycin because these organisms are no longer susceptibile to vancomycin.
    Text: PHIL

Colony morphology: