Medicine: The Disease Detectives

Officials at the National Institutes of Health were quite understandably disturbed and mystified. Eight patients under treatment for cancer had suddenly been struck with blood poisoning; until doctors learned what caused the condition, they were powerless to prevent other patients from being infected. Unable to find the cause on their own, the NIH doctors called in investigators from the U.S. Public Health Service's Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.

The move proved sound. After ruling out food and person-to-person transmission of the infection, the CDC men learned that all of the patients had...

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