Grapes of Staph

  • Staphylococcus aureus

Microbestiary Photo Contest Second Place

About this microbe:

This is an image of Staphylococcus aureus, a gram-positive cocci, that, under a microscope, resembles a cluster of grapes. It is a bacterium that is found on the human skin for individuals who are “Staph carriers”. It is an opportunistic pathogen and usually causes no harm; however, it is able to cause MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a flesh-eating skin infection that is extremely prevalent in hospitals around the world. Additionally, it can be the cause of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which is a life-threatening infection that causes muscle aches, confusion, seizures, and can be fatal. One other major cause of infection from this bacterium is food poisoning. This occurs when someone who is a “staph carrier” does not properly wash their hands or cook the food at a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria, or when someone consumes unpasteurized dairy products. This will result in symptoms occurring 30 minutes to 6 hours after consumption of contaminated food, and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cramping that can last up to 24 hours. Prevention of infections caused by this bacterium include: proper hygiene, especially for an open wound, cooking food to the correct temperature and for the optimal amount of time and being cautious of not infecting others while you have a staph infection.

Image: Brenna Lindsey