Volume 22, Number 11—November 2016
From the Greek streptos (“chain”) + kokkos (“berry”), streptococcal diseases have been known since at least the 4th century
bce when Hippocrates described erysipelas (Greek for “red skin”). The genus Streptococcus (Figure) was named by Austrian surgeon Theodor Billroth, who in 1874 described “small organisms as found in either isolated or arranged in pairs, sometimes in chains” in cases of erysipelas or wound infections. Over subsequent decades, as microscopy and staining techniques improved, many different researchers characterized the bacteria now known as Streptococcus pyogenes (Lancefield group A β-hemolytic streptococcus), S. pneumoniae, and other species.
- Majno G, Joris I. Billroth and Penicillium. Rev Infect Dis. 1979;1:880–4
Suggested citation for this article: Etymologia: Streptococcus. Emerg Infect Dis 2016 Nov [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2211.ET2211