[Skip to Content]
Sign In
Individual Sign In
Create an Account
Institutional Sign In
OpenAthens Shibboleth
Purchase Options:
[Skip to Content Landing]
January 27, 1984

Staphylococcal Food Poisoning in the United States: New Facts and Old Misconceptions

Author Affiliations

From the Enteric Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta.

JAMA. 1984;251(4):487-489. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340280037024

To determine the current epidemiologic characteristics of staphylococcal food-borne disease (SFD), we reviewed 131 outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, from 1977 through 1981. Staphylococcal food-borne disease was the second most common cause of reported food-borne illness, affecting more than 7,000 persons during the five-year period; 10% of these patients visited or were admitted to hospitals for their illnesses. The proportion of outbreaks attributable to Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxins A through E has changed, with enterotoxin A being the only toxin incriminated during the last three years of this review. Milk—the most common source of enterotoxin C- and D-producing strains—and commercially packed foods are less common causes of SFD outbreaks now than they were before 1960. However, previously cooked, proteinaceous foods remain preeminent in causing SFD. The presence or absence of fever in infected persons, skin lesions in food handlers, or large numbers of staphylococci in food were unreliable as diagnostic criteria. Thorough epidemiologic investigation remains crucial to identifying SFD and its sources.

(JAMA 1984;251:487-489)

Merson MH:  The epidemiology of staphylococcal foodborne disease , in  Proceedings Staphylococci in Foods Conference . University Park, Pa, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1973
Feig M:  Diarrhea, dysentery, food poisoning and gastroenteritis .  Am J Public Health 1950; 40:1372-1394.Crossref
Hodge BE:  Control of staphylococcal food poisoning .  Public Health Rep 1960;75:355-361.Crossref
 Report (1970-74) of the subcommittee on phage typing of staphylococci to the International Committee on Systematic Bacteriology .  Int J Syst Bacteriol 1975;25:241-242.Crossref
Breckenridge JC, Bergdoll MS:  Outbreak of foodborne gastroenteritis due to a coagulase negative, enterotoxin producing Staphylococcus .  N Engl J Med 1971;284:541-543.Crossref
Williams REO:  Healthy carriage of Staphylococcus aureus: Its prevalence and importance .  Bacteriol Rev 1963;27:56-71.
Summers MM, Lynch PF, Black T:  Hair as a reservoir of staphylococci .  J Clin Pathol 1965; 18:13-15.Crossref
Meyer KF:  Food poisoning .  N Engl J Med 1953;249:765-773.Crossref
Currier RW, Taylor A, Wolf FS, et al:  Fatal staphylococcal food poisoning .  South Med J 1973;66:703-705.Crossref
Bryan FL:  Staphylococcus aureus , in Defigueredo MP, Splittstoesser DF (eds):  Food Microbiology: Public Health and Spoilage Aspects . Westport, Conn, Avi Publishing Co, 1976, pp 12-128.
Minor TE, Marth EH:  Staphylococci and Their Significance in Foods . New York, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co, 1976.
Getting VA:  Epidemiologic aspects of foodborne disease .  N Engl J Med 1943;228:754-762, 788-796, 823-830.Crossref
Bryan FL:  What the sanitarian should know about staphylococci and salmonellae in non-diary products: I. Staphylococci .  J Milk Food Technol 1968;31:110-116.
 Presumed staphylococcal food poisoning associated with whipped butter .  MMWR 1977; 26:268.