and coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) were isolated from the hands of food handlers in 50 restaurants in Kuwait City and studied for the production of staphylococcal enterotoxins, toxic shock syndrome toxin-1, slime and resistance to antimicrobial agents. One or a combination of staphylococcal enterotoxins A, B or C were produced by 6% of the isolates, with the majority producing enterotoxin B. Toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 was detected in 7% of the isolates; 47% produced slime. In all, 21% of the isolates were resistant to tetracycline and 11.2% were resistant to propamidine isethionate and mercuric chloride. There was no correlation between slime and toxin production or between slime production and antibiotic resistance. The detection of enterotoxigenic CNS on food handlers suggests that such strains may contribute to food poisoning if food is contaminated by them and held in conditions that allow their growth and elaboration of the enterotoxins. It is recommended that enterotoxigenic CNS should not be ignored when investigating suspected cases of staphylococcal food poisoning.


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