Last reviewed 01/2018
Staph. epidermidis is normally resident in the skin flora, the gut and upper respiratory tract. It is a true opportunistic pathogen, requiring a major breach in the host's infection to establish infection, and invariably is hospital acquired. It is associated with skin penetration by implanted prostheses, for example Spitz Holter valves used to treat hydrocephalus, prosthetic heart valves, IV lines, intraperitoneal catheters and orthopaedic prostheses. It is a major cause of bacteraemia in neutropenics and in all infections there is a risk of endocarditis. It is also a serious neonatal infection, particularly in very low birth weight infants.
Staph. epidermidis produces some toxins but their significance is unknown. Adherence to a foreign surface is facilitated by the production of a viscous extracellular (proteoglycans) slime.
Staph. epidermidis is coagulase negative.