20 Interesting Facts About Staphylococcus Aureus + Symptoms of Staphylococcal Infections

Here are the top interesting facts about Staphylococcus aureus:

1 Staphylococcus aureus, more familiarly known as staph, is a type of pathogenic bacteria, which belong to the genus Staphylococcus. In 1880, a British surgeon named Sir Alexander Ogston first identified this bacteria in pus from a surgical abscess in a knee joint.

2 It is the main cause of soft tissue and skin infections, like – furuncles, abscesses (boils), and cellulitis.

3 The name of this bacterium comes from the Greek word ”staphyle,” which translates as ”a bunch of grapes,” and ”kokkos,” literally translating as ”berry,” because under the microscope this bacterium looks similar to a bunch of little round berries or grapes.

4 MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria are resistant to all beta-lactam antibiotics, including – penicillin, methicillin, amoxicillin, and oxacillin.

Therefore, it is vital to be aware of the risk and sources of this type of bacteria. An MRSA infection can sometimes be fatal, and is also referred to as the “Super Bug.”

5 MRSA is mostly spread through contact with items contaminated by the bacteria or by skin-to-skin contact. People with chronic illnesses and weakened immune systems (such as HIV patients or people taking cancer drugs) are more susceptible to the infection. The carriage rate of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in healthcare workers is around 5% and there are serious concerns of transmission of this pathogen to other people, especially to hospital-dependent patients.

6 A 2014 report by the World Health Organization which looked at antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance, concluded that this threat is happening in the present moment in all countries around the world.

7 In 2004, there were about 4 million people in the United States colonized by MRSA strains in 2004 (this was approximately 1.5 percent of the population), about 100 percent more than the rate from a survey in 2001.

8 Patients over 50 years of age or male gender were at higher risk of having this type of bacteria. In the pre-antibiotic era, an infection with S. aureus was frequently fatal. In a recent review of cases in the early 1940s, mortality was about 82 percent.

9 These bacteria are present in up to 1 in 4 healthy people (especially in the throat and nose) and are even more frequent among sufferers with eye, skin, throat, or nose infections.

10 The number of individuals who carry this bacterium asymptomatically dropped from 34 percent in 2001 to 28 percent in 2003, according to the NHANES study.

11 Carriers can spread S. aureus to other people and give them an infection. It is considered that individuals who work in hospitals are more likely to be carriers.

Moreover, individuals most likely to be carriers of this type of bacteria include people whose skin is repeatedly broken or punctured, like the following:

  • individuals with AIDS, skin infections, or previous staph infections;
  • individuals who are being treated with chronic ambulatory peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis;
  • individuals who use illegal drugs;
  • individuals who have type 2 diabetes mellitus or type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms of Staphylococcal Infections

12 Cellulitis – it is a bacterial infection of the layer of soft tissue and fat beneath the skin and the deep layer of the skin. Cellulitis can cause sufferers to feel nauseous and feverish. Other symptoms include – swelling, redness, and pain at the site of infection.

Occasionally, this infection appears in areas where the skin has broken open, like – the skin near surgical wounds or ulcers.

13 Impetigo – it is a contagious and painful rash that can be caused by S. aureus bacteria. This condition commonly features large blisters that may develop a honey-colored crust and ooze fluid.

14 Septic arthritis, also known as infectious arthritis, is an infection that usually affects a single large joint, but it is possible for more joints to be infected.

Symptoms include -decreased warmth, the range of motion, tenderness, and erythema of the joint. The treatment for this condition includes drainage of the infected joint fluid from the joint and antibiotics.

15 Boils – it is a collection of pus that forms in a hair follicle or oil gland. The skin over the infected zone generally becomes swollen and red.

The main treatment for this problem includes draining the abscess, however, this should be done only when it is soft and ready to drain.

16 Mastitis is an infection of the mammary glands inside the breasts. S.aureus may pass from a breast abscess into milk.


17 It is recommended to avoid sharing personal items (such as – razors and towels). Wearing foot coverings in locker rooms can also help prevent contamination.

18 Also, you should use a towel between your skin and shared gym equipment. In addition, shower immediately after using shared gym equipment or playing team sports.

19 Keep the hands clean by washing with water and soap or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

20 Do not prepare food if you have an eye or nose infection. More importantly, clean the food properly before you cook it.

However, this type of bacteria can grow in dairy products and meats, plus, the toxins that S.aureus produce cannot be destroyed through cooking since they are heat resistant.

Images credit – Shutterstock

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