Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is an important, gram-positive bacteria that is a well-known colonizer and cause of infection among animals. It has been reported in numerous domestic and wild animals species and humans. Animals known for harboring S. aureus include:
  • Domestic pets: Dogs, cats, rabbits, chinchillas, parrots, komodo dragons, and guinea pigs.
  • Livestock: Horses, pigs, cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, and quails.
  • Poultry predators: Foxes, minks, raccoons, black bears, and opossums.
  • Wild birds: Buzzards, waterfowl, gulls, finches,vultures, pigeons, rooks, and chaffinches.
  • Common backyard wildlife: Hedgehogs, brown hares, wild bores, wallabies, bats, squirrels, beavers, and mice.
S. aureus is a common inhabitant of the skin and mucus membranes of normal, healthy birds. It is also found in 30% of humans noses. Most of the time, S. aureus doesn't cause it's host any harm, and may even help to increase resistance to infections by other microorganisms. However, if S. aureus gains access to the inside of chicken's bodies, it can cause an infection (hence the term, "staph infection").

Some chicken are more at risk of developing a staph infection than others, depending on the following risk factors:
  • Concurrent illness or are recently recovering from one
  • Recent or recurring injuries
  • Exposure to unsanitary living conditions
  • Frequent exposure to moisture: such as muddy or flooded surfaces, wet bedding, puddles of water, etc.
  • Existing deformity, or genetic disadvantage (such as large chicken breeds and broilers that may spend alot of time laying down due to their body size to leg size ratio)
  • High stress: Such as exposure to hot and humid weather conditions, fear of predator attack or stalking, overcrowded living conditions, regular bullying by other flock members, mishandling by humans, relocation or rehoming)
  • Rough, or uneven floor surfaces
Staph infections can often be difficult to treat, as many S. aureus strains become resistant to certain antibiotics (meaning that they will be ineffective at treating the infection). The terminology of these drug-resistant staph infections include:
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA)
  • Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA)