Disease: Staphylococcus spp.

This page provides general information about this condition; reveal the text by clicking on the green headers. Press releases, results from DWHC investigations as well as other useful documents and relevant literature can be found at the bottom of the page.


Several species of Staphylococcus bacteria are well-known causes of disease in a range of animal species. These include S. aureus (responsible for the majority of infections in wildlife species), S. intermedius, and S.hyicus. The occurrence of infections with methicillin-resistant S. aureus in domestic animals is growing, although, to date there have been very few reports of infection in free-ranging wild animals.

Less serious disease can be associated with a second group of Staphylococci which includes S. pseudointermedius, S. epidermis, S. caprae, S. warneri, S. scuiri and S. haemolyticus. 

Susceptible species

Staphylococcus infections can occur in all animal species and there are reports of disease in a range of European wildlife species including foxes, otters, deer, hares, squirrels, ibex, bison, voles, seals and a chaffinch.

Signs in animals

Infection with Staphylococcus spp. can lead to a range of diseases including skin disease, abscess formation, mastitis, septicemia (blood poisoning).

Infection of animals

Various species of Staphylococci are a part of the normal fauna of the skin, mucous membranes, gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts of many animals and they show a degree of co-evolution with their host species. These bacteria are known as ”facultative pathogens” which means that they have the potential to cause disease, particularly when they can enter the body via damage to the skin or mucous membranes. In some species, wounds from fighting, bites from insects and lesions caused by pox virus infections can serve as a point of entry into the underlying tissues. Occasionally transmission can occur horizontally i.e. between individuals, for example from mother to offspring or between litter mates.

Infection of people

Pets and livestock can be a source of Staphylococcus infection in humans but the role of wildlife in this zoonosis is unclear. It is known that people infected with this bacteria can infect wildlife, particularly in bird rearing facilities. For this reason, to provide mutual protection from infection, good hygiene should be observed when handling animals.

Geographical distribution

These gram positive bacteria are found throughout the world although distributions of individual species may depend on  the host range.

Research results

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