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What is staphylococcus?

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Staphylococcus is described by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services as a bacteria commonly appearing on the skin and hair of people and animals. It is even more common in people who have an infection. If food is contaminated by staph, as it is abbreviated, and is not refrigerated, it can cause food poisoning.

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At room temperature, the bacteria can multiply rapidly and produce toxins, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. However, it can be killed when cooked and pasteurized. Staphylococcus is found on foods that are made using the hands and not cooked afterward, such as sandwiches, salads, bakery products and dairy. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss and fever.

Treatment for staphylococcus involves drinking plenty of fluids and resting, explains the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The illness usually only lasts 24 to 48 hours. Hydration is extremely important; if someone is too ill to keep fluids down, a doctor may be needed. The incubation period is four to six hours.

Staphylococcus can cause diseases as well as food poisoning, notes MedicineNet. Toxic shock syndrome, boils and impetigo have all been linked to the bacteria. Localized staph infections may involve a collection of pus that is tender, swollen and red. One kind of staph infection is called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and is resistant to the antibiotics normally used to treat staph infections.

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