Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Staphylococcus spp

Contributor(s): Richard Walker, Anette Loeffler




  • Family: Micrococcaceae.
  • Genus: Staphylococcus.
  • Species: currently around 50 different species recognized.


  • Gk: staphule - bunch of grapes; Gk: kokkos - grain, berry, seed.

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Clinical Effects



  • Colonise healthy skin and mucosae on most mammals and birds.
  • Infection sites and environmental surfaces.


  • Reproduction by binary fission.


  • Endogenous infection.
  • Direct and indirect contact.

Pathological effects

  • Associated with pyogenic infections.
  • Typically skin and ear infections, traumatic and post-surgical wound infections, often associated with implants, catheters, suture material and biofilm.
  • Any other organs (eg urinary tract, respiratory tract) as for other staphylococci.
  • No known lasting immunity.
  • Infection requires disturbance in skin barrier function or host-immune status.
  • Pathogenic species produce range of enzymes and toxins, including leuocidin, alpha toxin.
  • Peptidoglycan and cell-mediated immunity intensify the inflammatory response in abscesses.
  • Cell-mediated immunity can localize infection (eg Botryomycosis).
  • Clearance largely depends on phagocytosis.

Other Host Effects

  • Often none as part of normal skin and mucosal microflora (including upper respiratory tract).


Control via chemotherapies

  • Surface and superficial infections often respond to topical antibacterial therapy alone.
  • Susceptible to most biocides marketed for topical use.
  • Proven efficacy, eg for 2-4% chlorhexidine Chlorhexidine products for the treatment of superficial skin infections.
  • Abscesses should be drained and flushed with antiseptics.
  • When systemic therapy is indicated: antibiotic resistance common; susceptibility testing helpful.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of underlying primary cause that led to infection are critical to aid resolution and prevent recurrence.
Care: resistance to met(h)icillin is a marker for multidrug-resistance and requires consideration of zoonotic implications and hygiene measures.


  • None commercially available.

Other countermeasures

  • Practice hygiene measures indicated for multidrug-resistant isolates.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Walther B, Tedin K, Lübke-Becker A (2017) Multidrug-resistant opportunistic pathogens challenging veterinary infection control. Vet Microbiol 200, 71-78 PubMed.
  • Hill P B, Imai A (2016) The immunopathogenesis of staphylococcal skin infections - A review. Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis 49, 8-28 PubMed.
  • Paharik A E, Horswill A R (2016) The Staphylococcal Biofilm: Adhesins, Regulation, and Host Response. Microbiol Spectr (2) PubMed.
  • Somayaji R, Priyantha M A, Rubin J E et al (2016) Human infections due to Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, an emerging zoonosis of canine origin: report of 24 cases. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis 85 (4), 471-476 PubMed.
  • Wendlandt S, Shen J, Kadlec K et al (2015) Multidrug resistance genes in staphylococci from animals that confer resistance to critically and highly important antimicrobial agents in human medicine. Trends Microbiol 23 (1), 44-54 PubMed.
  • Cain C L (2013) Antimicrobial resistance in staphylococci in small animals. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 43 (1), 19-40 PubMed.
  • Bond R, Loeffler A (2012) What's happened to Staphylococcus intermedius? Taxonomic revision and emergence of multi-drug resistance. J Small Anim Pract 53 (3), 147-154 PubMed.
  • Weese J S (2012) Staphylococcal control in the veterinary hospital. Vet Dermatol 23 (4), 292-298, e57-58 PubMed.
  • Ben Zakour N L, Guinane C M, Fitzgerald J R (2008) Pathogenomics of the staphylococci: insights into niche adaptation and the emergence of new virulent strains. FEMS Microbiol Lett 289 (1), 1-12 PubMed.
  • Kong K F, Vuong C, Otto M (2006) Staphylococcus quorum sensing in biofilm formation and infection. Int J Med Microbiol 296 (2-3), 133-139 PubMed.
  • Talan D A, Citron D M, Abrahamian F M et al (1999) Bacteriologic analysis of infected dog and cat bites. Emergency Medicine Animal Bite Infection Study Group. N Engl J Med 340 (2), 85-92 PubMed
  • Allaker R P, Jensen L, Lloyd D H et al (1992) Colonization of neonatal puppies by staphylococci. Brit Vet J 148 (6), 523-528 PubMed.
  • Allaker R P, Lloyd D H, Bailey R M et al (1992) Population sizes and frequency of staphylococci at mucocutaneous sites in healthy dogs. Vet Rec 130 (14), 303-304 PubMed.