Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is a spherical, Gram-positive bacterium that often occurs in groups. Staphylococci are non-motile and do not form spores.

Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most common causes of nosocomial infections. Some strains of Staphylococcus aureus are also able to produce toxins. Possible diseases include:

  • Skin and soft tissue infections

  • Osteomyelitis (chronic inflammation of the bone and bone marrow)

  • Endocarditis (inflammation of the heart´s inner lining)

  • Pneumonia

  • Meningitis

  • Toxic shock syndrome

  • Sepsis

Staphylococcus aureus is widespread worldwide. 20-30% of the population is permanently colonized (primarily at the nasal vestibule). In addition, Staphylococcus aureus is also found in food and water.

Relevance of pathogen in transmission in endoscopy

  • Gastroenterology: Low

  • Pulmonology: High

  • Ear, nose, and throat: Not relevant

  • Urology: Not relevant

Relevance for endoscope surveillance

  • High concern organism

Transmission route

Staphylococcus aureus is mainly transmitted via skin contact (especially via skin wounds). The pathogen can also be transmitted via contaminated objects, food, dust and livestock. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is of major importance in healthcare facilities, where patients with weakened immune systems are very susceptible to infection.

Resistance to antibiotics

Staphylococcus aureus shows high rates of resistance to antibiotics. Some strains of Staphylococcus aureus exhibit multidrug-resistance:

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): Strains of Staphylococcus aureus that are resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin

  • Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA): Strains of Staphylococcus aureus that are additionally resistant to vancomycin

Sources and further readings

  1. Empfehlungen zur Prävention und Kontrolle von Methicillin-resistenten Staphylococcus aureus-Stämmen (MRSA) in medizinischen und pflegerischen Einrichtungen Empfehlung der Kommission für Krankenhaushygiene und Infektionsprävention (KRINKO) beim Robert Koch-Institut, Bundesgesundheitsbl 2014, 57:696–732.

  2. Gries O, Ly T: Infektologie – Kompendium humanpathogener Infektionskrankheiten und Erreger, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2019.

  3. Jung M. MRSA and Endoscopy – A Negligible Topic? Endoskopie heute 2012; 25(2): 126–129.

  4. Methicillin-resistente Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), European Food Safety Authority Accessed on 06.22.2021.

  5. MRSA in Healthcare Settings, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on 06.23.2021.