Medicine: Menace from South Africa

New strain of pneumonia bug defies most antibiotics

Penicillin's reputation as a miracle drug, won on the battlefields of World War II, has been repeatedly proved in combatting one of the commonest and deadliest forms of pneumonia: the type caused by berry-shaped bacteria appropriately called pneumococci. Though increasingly resistant strains of these microbes have appeared occasionally in recent years, larger doses of the drug—and a whole battery of newer antibiotics—have managed to subdue them. Now from South Africa comes an alarming report about the appearance of one or more strains of pneumococci that largely defy the germ-killing powers not only of penicillin...

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