Staphylococcus Aureus

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Foodborne Illness Short Answer Questions


What is the infectious agent (pathogen) that causes this infectious disease?

The pathogen that causes Staphylococcus is called Staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus is also called Staph and is abbreviated to S. aureus or Staph aureus in medical literature. S. aureus is a bacterium that causes various infections. Staph is a commonly found on the skin and also in mucus membranes (mostly the nose and throat) of up to 25% of healthy people and animals. Depending on the type of strain S. aureus, can cause minor skin infections such as pimples, boils, carbuncles, and abscesses or life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, endocarditis and toxic shock syndrome. (Microbiology, 2005) Some strains produce an enterotoxin that causes staphylococcus aureus gastroenteritis, also known as food poisoning. The most harmful species of S. aureus is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA); this bacterium has developed antibiotic resistance. (Microbiology, 2005) Each year, approximately half a million people are admitted to a hospital in the U.S. due to a staphylococcal infection.

How is this infectious agent transmitted through food or water?

S. aureus is not necessarily transmitted through food or water but primarily through direct person-to-person contact. It is also possible to transmit through indirect contact (i.e. contaminated environmental surfaces). Staph infections are common hospital-acquired infections due to the possibility of health care providers being carriers of this, usually harmless, bacteria. A carrier of S. aureus can easily contaminate their own hands by contact with their nose in the course of routine activities. Skin to skin contact is the most significant mode of transmitting the pathogen and hand washing can significantly reduce transmission. Staph infections can spread through contact with pus from an infected wound, contact with objects such as...
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