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Definition of Staphylococcus

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Staphylococcus: A group of bacteria that cause a multitude of diseases. Under a microscope, staphylococcus bacteria are round and bunched together. They can cause illness directly by infection or indirectly through products they make, such as the toxins responsible for food poisoning and toxic shock syndrome. The best-known member of the staphylococcus family is Staphylococcus aureus. A drug resistant form of Staphylococcus aureus is called MRSA (methicillin resistant Staph. aureus). Staphylococci are the main culprits in hospital-acquired infections, and they cause thousands of deaths every year. Also known as staph.

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