Studies with the beta haemolysin of staphylococcus aureus
Wiseman, Gordon Marcy
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Interest in Staphylococcus aureus as a possible agent of disease in man and animals arose in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. At that time there were conflicting views regarding the aetiological relationship of staphylococci to the pyogenic lesions in which they were observed. The possibility that diffusible extraoellular products of bacteria might be involved in initiation of such lesions was not at first considered until Klebs (1872) postulated a general relationship between pathogenicity and toxin production in bacteria, and De Christmas (1888) demonstrated the toxicity of heated broth cultures of S. aureus. It was unfortunately soon apparent that the brilliant results obtained following bacteriological research on diphtheria and anthrax were not to be readily reproduced in the field of staphylococcal research. Pathogenic bacteria had seemed to fall into one of two groups: the first characterised by invasiveness, and the second by production of a toxin. However, S. aureus was found on occasion to possess attributes of both groups. It is now known that culture filtrates of S. aureus contain a great many toxic and enzymic factors, some of which have been fairly well characterised.