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Staphylococci are the cause for many infectious diseases in humans and animals. They can lead to both foodborne poisoning and infectious diseases. They often cause purulent wound infections and other purulent infections in humans and animals. They are also responsible for mastitides, in particular in cattle. A special challenge are the multi-resistant strains such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which are only difficult to treat because of their insensitivity to many antibiotic ingredient classes.

Food intoxications by Staphylococci enterotoxins

The significance of coagulase-positive Staphylococci with Staphylococcus aureus as the most important representative, is in terms of food hygiene their ability to form Staphylococci enterotoxins (SE) and enterotoxin-like SAgs (SE-like) super antigens (SAgs). For the SE-likes the stimulation of nausea (emetic activity) is, however, not yet deemed to be proven. By now 20 different types of Staphylococci enterotoxins (SE types) have been described. The highest significance as a cause of food intoxications continues to be attributed to the four classical toxin types (referred to as SE-A to -E).

Food intoxication by coagulase-positive Staphylococci presupposes that the pathogens have been able to sufficiently multiply in the food and have formed heat-stable enterotoxins. The dominating symptoms of Staphylococci intoxication are vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and circulatory symptoms. Already very low amounts of toxin can be sufficient.

According to estimates Staphylococci enterotoxins are the second most frequent cause of microbial food intoxications.


Staphylococci are gram-positive, immobile, coccoid bacteria which belong to the family of Micrococcaceae. They grow under aerobic conditions but also in an oxygen-reduced atmosphere and occur naturally in humans and animals. The nasopharynx and the skin of healthy humans and animals are very frequently contaminated; Staphylococci are also detected in cow milk.