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Volume 19, Number 9—September 2013

Etymologia

Etymologia: Staphylococcus

Giancarlo Licitra

Suggested citation for this article

Staphylococcus [staffʺə-lo kokʹəs]

From the Greek staphyle (bunch of grapes) and kokkos (berry), Staphylococcus is a genus of gram-positive spherical bacteria that commonly cause surgical and skin infections, respiratory disease, and food poisoning. In 1880, Scottish surgeon Sir Alexander Ogston first described staphylococci in pus from a surgical abscess in a knee joint: “the masses looked like bunches of grapes.” In 1884, German physician Friedrich Julius Rosenbach differentiated the bacteria by the color of their colonies: S. aureus (from the Latin aurum, gold) and S. albus (Latin for white). S. albus was later renamed S. epidermidis because of its ubiquity on human skin.

References

  1. Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
  2. Classics in infectious diseases. “On abscesses.” Alexander Ogston (1844–1929. Rev Infect Dis. 1984;6:1228.PubMed
  3. Orenstein A. The discovery and naming of Staphylococcus aureus [cited 2013 Jul 10]. http://www.antimicrobe.org/h04c.files/history/S-aureus.pdf

Suggested citation for this article: Etymologia: Staphylococcus. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2013 Sep [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1909.ET1909

DOI: 10.3201/eid1909.ET1909

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Table of Contents – Volume 19, Number 9—September 2013

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