Staphyloccocus aureus is a potentially lethal bacillus that is killed in different ways, including antibiotics, antiseptics and prevention, depending on the environment where it is found. As much as 30 percent of the population carries a particularly virulent strain of staph, MRSA, on the skin, according to About.com.
When staph is on or inside the body, treatment of the infection usually involves a course of antibiotics. This began in the 1950s, according to About.com, with the use of methicillin, a derivative of penicillin, to treat staph infections. Over time, the bacillus evolved resistant strains that are significantly harder to treat with older antibiotics. New antibiotics are constantly being developed, but resistant strains of staph have always arisen in response to drug therapies. This makes it all the more important to prevent transmission entirely.
Preventing the transmission of staph bacteria is largely a matter of treating surfaces and following universal precautions to avoid transmission to uninfected people. When staph is present in food, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends thorough cooking to kill it. Thorough hand washing with antibacterial soap also is effective in controlling staph.
On surfaces, it is possible to use harsh antiseptics to kill staph. According to the journal "MicrobiologyOpen," copper surfaces are naturally hostile to bacteria, though the reason is not well understood.