Staphylococci cause abscesses, boils, and other infections of the skin, such as impetigo. They can also produce infection in any organ of the body (e.g., staphylococcal pneumonia of the lungs). The most common form of food poisoning is brought on by staphylococcus-contaminated food. The staphylococcus organisms also generate toxins and enzymes that can destroy both red and white blood cells.
Unlike some other types of bacteria, staphylococci are generally partly or wholly resistant to antibiotic action; this raises serious problems in the treatment and control of staphylococcus infections (see drug resistance). The rise of drug-resistant virulent strains of S. aureus, particularly methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), has led increasing concern in the medical community. Although sick patients with compromised immune systems and children are most susceptible to the strains, which most typically are contracted in hospital, nursing home, and other health-care settings, healthy persons have also been infected. Pharmaceutical companies are working to develop new antibiotics to kill drug-resistant strains of staphylococcus and other bacteria, and a vaccine for S. aureus has been developed.
The Staphylococcus genus include just thirty-one species. Most are harmless and reside normally on the skin and mucous membranes of humans and other organisms. Found worldwide, they are a small component of soil microbial flora.
Staphylococcus species can be differentiated from other aerobic and facultative anaerobic gram positive cocci by several simple tests. Staphylococcus spp. are facultative anaerobes. Facultative anaerobes are capable of growth both aerobically and anaerobically. All species grow in the presence of bile salts and are catalase positive. Growth also occurs in a 6.5% NaCl solution. On Baird Parker Medium Staphylococcus spp. show as fermentative, except for S. saprophyticus which is oxidative. Staphylococcus spp. are resistant to Bacitracin (0.04 U resistance = <10mm zone of inhibition) and susceptible to Furazolidone (100μg resistance = <15mm zone of inhibition).
Further biochemical testing is needed to identify down to the species LEVEL.