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Volume 19, Number 9—September 2013
Etymologia

Etymologia: Staphylococcus

Giancarlo Licitra

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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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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

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Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid1909.et1909

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

Page created: July 30, 2013
Page updated: August 20, 2013
Page reviewed: August 20, 2013
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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