Staphylococcus Bacteria

The name Staphylococcus was introduced by Ogston in 1883 for the group micrococci bacteria causing inflammation and pus formation.  Staphylococcus in Greek is “staphyle” which means a bunch of grapes and “kokkos” which means berry. Ogston was the first to differentiate two kinds of pyogenic (pus forming) cocci: one arranged in groups or masses “Staphylococcus” and another arranged in chains  “Streptococcus”.

The genus Staphylococcus has about 36 species, many of which are associated with human colonization or infection. Staphylococcus species found in humans or animals include S. aureas, S. epidermidis, S. saprophyticus, S. hominis, S. hemolyticus, and S. warneri. These six organisms are potential human pathogens but S.aureus is often considered to be the most problematic. It is known to cause many superficial pyogenic (pus-forming) infections of the dermis and underlying tissues as well as serious systemic infections. S.aureus can produce a range of toxins including enterotoxins (food poisoning), cytotoxins (general systemic toxins), and toxic shock superantigens.

Staphylococcus bacteria that cause infection in humans are commonly found on the skin and hair as well as in the noses and throats of people and animals. It is estimated that 25 percent of healthy people have these bacteria. The bacteria are even more common among those with skin, eye, nose, or throat infections. The infection occurs when the bacteria gain entry as result of stress or cuts on the skin or mucosal surface.

Transmission of Staphylococcus bacteria

Staphylococcus bacteria are transmitted from person to person. Upon transmission, the bacteria may become part of the recipient’s normal flora and later gain entry through wounds/cuts or due to stress. Staphylococci infection may also occur during surgery.

Food Contamination by Staphylococcus Bacteria

Food may get contaminated with Staphylococcus during handling by workers. If the contaminated food is not properly refrigerated, the bacteria can cause food poisoning. Other sources of food contamination include the equipment and surfaces on which food is prepared. Staphylococcus bacteria multiply quickly at room temperature to produce a toxin that causes illness. Fortunately, Staphylococcus bacteria are easily killed by cooking and pasteurization.

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