Streptococcus viridans

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Streptococcus viridans



Streptococcus viridans


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Streptococcus viridans

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A study is done to identify the normal bacterial flora of the mouth. One bacterial species that was found to colonize the mouth is a gram-positive coccus that grows in chains and is catalase-negative. When it is grown on blood agar, alpha-hemolysis is noted. Additionally, this bacterium was tested for optochin sensitivity and was optochin-resistant. Which of the following is an additional feature of this bacterium?  

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Dental plaque

viridans streptococci p. 127


viridans streptococci p. 126

Viridans streptococci p. 134

α-hemolysis p. 133

bacterial endocarditis p. 320

biofilm production p. 127

brain abscesses p. 177

Gram-positive algorithm p. 132

normal flora p. 175

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The term “streptococcus viridans”, refers to five groups of Streptococci that include Streptococcus anginosus group, mitis group, sanguinis group, salivarius group, and finally the mutans group.

And each of these groups has approximately 30 species that can cause disease in humans.

So the more correct term would be “viridans streptococci”, to reflect that there’s more than one of them.

Generally speaking, viridans streptococci can’t be assigned to a Lancefield group based on their cell wall antigens.

However, in the Streptococcus anginosus group, some species can be assigned to Lancefield groups A, C, F or G.

Now, viridans streptococci have a thick peptidoglycan cell wall, which takes in purple dye when Gram stained - so they’re gram-positive bacteria.

They’re also catalase negative - which means they don’t produce an enzyme called catalase. Ok, now, when cultivated on a medium called blood agar, viridans streptococci colonies cause alpha hemolysis, also called green hemolysis, because they produce hydrogen peroxide, which partially oxidizes initially red hemoglobin in the blood agar to green methemoglobin.

One way to remember this is to think that 'viridans’ means ‘green’ in Latin.

Some species in the Streptococcus anginosus group, however, can also be beta-hemolytic or nonhemolytic.

These guys are special little snowflakes.

Now, other Streptococcus species, like Streptococcus pneumoniae, are also alpha hemolytic.

So, an optochin test is done to distinguish them.

That’s where an optochin-containing paper disc is placed on a plate of blood agar that has been inoculated with the bacteria.

With Strep pneumoniae, the growth of the bacteria is inhibited in the zone that surrounds the optochin disc, meaning that Strep pneumoniae is optochin sensitive.

On the flip side, viridans streptococci are optochin resistant - meaning there’s no inhibition of the growth around the optochin disc.

Another test that can be used to distinguish Strep viridans from Strep pneumoniae is the bile solubility test, which can be done in a test tube, or more commonly, by dripping drops of bile on bacterial colonies.


Streptococcus viridans is a group of gram-positive, alpha-hemolytic streptococci that is commonly found in the oropharynx, epithelial surfaces of the oral cavity, teeth, skin, the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tract of humans. The term streptococcus viridans �, refers to five groups of Streptococci that include Streptococcus anginosus group, the mitis group, the sanguinis group, the salivarius group, and the mutans group.

S. viridans is part of the normal human microbiota and usually does not cause disease, however, it has been implicated in causing several infections, especially in immunocompromised individuals. S. viridans dental caries, periodontal disease, brain and liver abscesses, and bacterial endocarditis.

Some strains of S. viridans are capable of forming biofilms on medical implants such as catheters and prosthetic heart valves, which can offer them some antibiotic resistance. Treatment of S. viridans infections typically involves antibiotics such as penicillin, vancomycin, or erythromycin.


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