ISSN 2398-2993      

Staphylococcus spp


Veronica Fowler

Tammy Hassel




  • Kingdom: bacteria.
  • Subkingdom: posibacteria.
  • Phylum: firmicutes.
  • Class: bacilli.
  • Order: bacillales.
  • Family: staphylococcaceae.
  • Genus: staphylococcus.


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

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Clinical Effects



  • Occur worldwide as commensals on mucosal, upper respiratory and skin surfaces. Can also be transiently found within the digestive tract.
  • May also be found within the environment (eg contaminated bedding) as Staphylococci are comparatively stable.


  • Infection is usually associated with trigger factors leading to opportunistic colonization.
  • Endogenous or exogenous infection.
  • Infection from environment (eg from feces contaminated bedding).
  • Mechanical transmission (eg from contaminated milking equipment/farmers hands/clothes).

Pathological effects

  • Some species kill leukocytes.
  • Cell envelope constituents may be antiphagocytic.
  • Peptidoglycan and cell-mediated immunity intensify the inflammatory response in abscesses.
  • Cell-mediated immunity localizes infection.
  • Clearance depends on phagocytosis.
  • Immunodeficient animals have frequent infections.
  • No lasting immunity after recovery.
  • Pathogenic Staphylococci are usually coagulase-positive.
  • Production of endotoxins including: hemolysins, toxic-shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1), exfoliative toxins (ET) and leukocidin.
  • Range of other enzymes and toxins, alpha toxin, capsule, peptidoglycan, adhesins.
  • Mastitis.
  • Udder dermatitis (impetigo) Udder impetigo.
  • Foliculitis [Foliculitis].
  • Wound infections (eg Cesarean section Cesarean section).
  • Cellulitis has been observed in bulls.
  • MRSA [MRSA] wound infections following surgery or hospitalization.


Control via animal

  • Avoid animal exposure to trigger factors which promote tissue colonization (eg minor trauma/immunosuppression).
  • Drain and irrigate abscesses.
  • Dry cow therapy for subclinical disease Dry cow therapy.
  • Treatment and prevention of teat lesions (eg those caused by poor equipment).

Control via chemotherapies

  • Topical antiseptics (dip or spray teats with disinfectants after milking in the case of mastitis).
  • Topical antibiotics (eg for udder dermatitis).
  • Antibiotics (eg cephalosporins, cloxacillin Cloxacillin, erythromycin Erythromycin or penicillin Penicillin G combined with novobiocin, pirlimycin, tetracyclines Chlortetracycline Oxytetracycline, tylosin Tylosin, tilmiocosin) via parenteral or intra mammary route. In acute infections, intramuscular or intravenous antibiotics can be given. However, antibiotic resistance common therefore susceptibility testing should be undertaken.

Control via environment

  • Properly maintained milking equipment.
  • Good farm and farm worker hygiene practices.
  • Regularly disinfect equipment.
  • Biosecurity Biosecurity to prevent introduction of pathogens, and segregation or culling of chronically infected animals.


  • There are vaccines available for some species which are used commonly in USA:
    • S. aureus (eg Staphylococcus aureus bacterin-toxoid-Hygieia biological laboratories).
    • LYSIGIN ® vaccination is reccommended as a prevantive measure against mastitis in cattle in the USA.
  • There are other vaccines available in Europe eg STARTVAC® / TOPVAC®.    
  • Mastitis: vaccines.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Vanderhaeghen W, Piepers S, Leroy F, Van Coillie E, Haesebrouck F & De Vliegher S (2015) Identification, typing, ecology and epidemiology of coagulase negative staphylococci associated with ruminants. Vet J 203 (1), 44-51 PubMed.
  • Deb R, Kumar A, Chakraborty S, Verma A K, Tiwari R, Dhama K, Singh U & Kumar S (2013) Trends in diagnosis and control of bovine mastitis: a review. Pak J Biol Sci 16 (23), 1653-61 PubMed.
  • Foster A P (2012) Staphylococcal skin disease in livestock. Vet Dermatol 23 (4), 342-51 VetMedResource.
  • Syring C et al (2012) Bovine mastitis: the diagnostic properties of a PCR-based assay to monitor the Staphylococcus aureus genotype B status of a herd, using bulk tank milk. J Dairy Sci 95 (7), 3674-3682 PubMed.
  • Mørk T et al (2012) Persistence of staphylococcal species and genotypes in the bovine udder. Vet Microbiol 159 (1-2), 171-180 PubMed.
  • Verdier-Metz I, Gagne G, Bornes S, Monsallier F, Veisseire P, Delbès-Paus C & Montel M C (2012) Cow teat skin, a potential source of diverse microbial populations for cheese production. Appl Environ Microbiol 78 (2), 326-33 PubMed.
  • Pyörälä S & Taponen S (2009) Coagulase-negative staphylococci-emerging mastitis pathogens. Vet Microbiol 134 (1-2) PubMed.
  • Younis A, Krifucks O, Heller E D, Samra Z, Glickman A, Saran A & Leitner G (2003) Staphylococcus aureus exosecretions and bovine mastitis. J Vet Med B Infect Dis Vet Public Health. 50 (1), 1-7 VetMedResource.
  • Roberson J R, Fox L K, Hancock D D, Gay J M & Besser T E (1996) Prevalence of coagulase positive staphylococci, other than Staphylococcus aureus, in bovine mastitis. Am J Vet Res 57 (1), 54-8 PubMed.
  • Biberstein E L, Jang S S & Hirsh D C (1984) Species distribution of coagulase-positive staphylococci in animals. J Clin Microbiol 19 (5), 610-615.
  • Devriese L A & Derycke J (1979) Staphylococcus hyicus in cattle. Res Vet Sci 26 (3), 356-8

Other sources of information

  • Biberstein E L (1990) Staphylococci. In: Review of Veterinary Microbiology. Eds: E L Biberstein & Y C Lee. Blackwell Scientific, USA. pp 150-156. 

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