The bacterium is often found on the human skin and mucous membrane. It belongs to the genus of staphylococci, which feed on organic material. The best-known representative of this genus is Staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus epidermidis is normally harmless for healthy people. In people with a weakened immune system, however, the pathogen can cause persistent nosocomial infections. In hospitals, it can become problematic because of its resistance to penicillin and methicillin.
Staphylococcus epidermidis can survive for a long time on various surfaces – especially on polymeric plastic or metal – and form a biofilm that adheres well. Contamination of medical products (prolonged catheters or drains, transplanted heart valves, and artificial joints) can cause a so-called foreign-body infection, sometimes with serious consequences. The germ can also enter the body through the hands, blood, cough secretion, wound secretion and skin contact, as well as through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces.
Staphylococcus epidermidis can cause wound infections, boils, sinus infections, endocarditis and other inflammations. The bacterium can reside for a long period of time in "hiding places" in the body, where it is not noticed by the immune system, and therefore also not fought. As soon as the conditions for a new infection are favourable for the bacterium, for example, if the human has a weak immune system, the bacterium can reignite centres of inflammation that can become chronic and – if the pathogen is multi-resistant – are difficult to fight.
According to hospital surveillance reports, the bacterium is a regular cause of nosocomial wound infections and urinary tract infections, as well as sepsis.
The necessary spectrum of activity against Staphylococcus epidermidis is: bactericidal