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Staphylococcus epidermidis

Staff on Epidermis histology
Picmonic
Staphylococcus epidermidis is a gram-positive cocci that is part of the human skin flora. This organism is usually not pathogenic, but can cause infection in patients with compromised immune systems. Staphylococcus epidermidis is also a large concern with patients with catheters or other prosthetic devices, because it is known to cause adherent biofilms that grow on the devices. Characteristically, it is a catalase-positive, coagulase-negative bacterium. Staphylococcus epidermidis can be differentiated from Staphylococcus saprophyticus, which is also catalase-positive, coagulase negative, but Staph epidermidis has a sensitivity to novobiocin. Because this organism is a component of normal skin flora, it is a common contaminant of blood cultures. 
10 KEY FACTS
CHARACTERISTICS
Cocci
Cockeyed

This bacterium has a spherical shape.

Gram-Positive
Graham-cracker Positive-angel

This organism stains positive on Gram stain due to thick peptidoglycan layer which absorbs crystal violet.

Catalase-Positive
Positive-cat

Characteristically, Staph epidermidisis is catalase-positive, meaning it produces the enzyme catalase. This enzyme allows the bacterium to convert hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. This characteristic is helpful in distinguishing Staphylococci from catalase-negative Streptococci and Enterococci.

Urease-Positive
Positive U-eraser

This bacterium has the ability to produce urease, which hydrolyzes urea in the body to ammonia.

Coagulase-Negative
Negative Clogs

Staph epidermidis can be differentiated from other Staphylococcal organisms, such as Staph aureus, because Staph aureus is coagulase-positive, while Staph epidermidis is coagulase-negative.

Novobiocin-Sensitive
Navy-bison Sensitive-crying

Staphylococcus epidermidis is catalase- positive and coagulase-negative, but is sensitive to novobiocin. In comparison, Staphylococcus saprophyticus is novobiocin- resistant, but also catalase-positive and coagulase-negative.

Component of Normal Skin Flora
Flowers on Skin

Staphylococcus epidermidis is a gram- positive cocci that is part of the human skin flora.

Infects Prosthetic Devices and IV Catheters
Prosthetic-leg and IV

Staphylococcus epidermidis is also a large concern with patients with catheters or other prosthetic devices, such as heart valves, because it is known to cause adherent biofilms that grow on the devices.

Contaminates Blood Cultures
Blood on Petri-dish

Because this organism is a component of normal skin flora, it is a common contaminant of blood cultures.

Produces Adherent Biofilms
Movie-film

Staphylococcus epidermidis is also a large concern with patients with catheters or other prosthetic devices, because it is known to cause adherent biofilms that grow on the devices.

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