GERM WARFARE

A DRUG-RESISTANT STAPH STRAIN HAS DOCTORS ON EDGE

Of all the illnesses that can be picked up in the hospital, a staphylococcus infection is surely the most fearsome. The stealthy bacterium snakes along intravenous lines or seeps into surgical wounds, destroying skin and bones, poisoning blood, threatening death. For years it could be stopped by penicillin. Then it slowly became resistant to one antibiotic after another until finally only one, vancomycin, remained to subdue all staph strains. Now comes word that even that microbial barrier is falling.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control reported that a man in a Michigan hospital had contracted a staph infection that even...

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