Bohach, Greg Department of Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and Biochemistry, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.
Last reviewed:September 2016
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- Cell structure, physiology, and genetics
- Resistance to antimicrobial agents
- Strain typing
- Coagulase-positive (S. aureus) infections
- Coagulase-negative diseases
- Animal diseases
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A genus of Gram-positive bacteria containing more than 40 species, some of which are pathogenic to humans. Collectively, members of the genus Staphylococcus are referred to as staphylococci. Their usual habitat is animal skin and mucosal surfaces. Although the genus is known for the ability of some species to cause infectious diseases, many species rarely cause infections. For example, Staphylococcus epidermidis is a major component of the human skin flora. Pathogenic staphylococci are usually opportunists and cause illness in compromised hosts. Staphylococcus aureus (Fig. 1), the most pathogenic species, is usually identified by its ability to produce coagulases (proteins that affect fibrinogen of the blood-clotting cascade). Because most other species of staphylococci do not produce coagulase, it is useful to divide staphylococci into coagulase-positive and coagulase-negative species. Coagulase-negative staphylococci are not highly virulent, but are an important cause of infections in certain high-risk groups. Although Staphylococcus infections were once readily treatable with antibiotics, some strains have acquired genes making them resistant to multiple antimicrobial agents. See also: Bacteria; Bacteriology; Clinical microbiology; Human susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus; Medical bacteriology; Microbiology; Opportunistic infections; Pathogen
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