Staphylococcus aureus

Bacteria, Gram-Positive, Healthcare-Transmitted, Surface-Transmitted

Structure and Physiology

Staphylococcus aureus is a Gram-positive, coccal-shaped, facultative anaerobic bacterium. During binary fission, the two daughter cells that are produced do not completely separate. Incomplete separations of the cells result in the cluster formation. S. aureus is a catalase-positive bacterium that is able to combat the electronegative oxidizing effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Transmission and Disease

S. aureus can give rise to many infections but can also be present in symbiotic relationships. The presence of S. aureus in the human body does not necessarily indicate infection. Tissues that have been breeched in the skin or mucosal barriers can lead to infections. Infections can then spread through pus from infected wounds or contact with objects such as towels, sheets, clothing, or athletic equipment used by the infected individual. Prosthetic joints are susceptible to this bacterium and severe infection can lead to endocarditis, septic arthritis, and pneumonia.


S. aureus is commonly used in several test methods as a model for Gram-positive bacteria. It can be difficult to disinfect but does demonstrate susceptibility to low level disinfectants.


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