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Volume 19, Number 9—September 2013


Etymologia: Staphylococcus

Giancarlo Licitra

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EID Licitra G. Etymologia: Staphylococcus. Emerg Infect Dis. 2013;19(9):1553.
AMA Licitra G. Etymologia: Staphylococcus. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2013;19(9):1553. doi:10.3201/eid1909.ET1909.
APA Licitra, G. (2013). Etymologia: Staphylococcus. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 19(9), 1553.

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.


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  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].
Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid1909.ET1909

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