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November 5, 1960

Postsurgical Staphylococcic Infections: Outbreak Traced to an Individual Carrying Phage Strains 80/81 and 80/81/52/52A

Author Affiliations

Atlanta, Ga.

From the Epidemic Intelligence Service, Communicable Disease Center, Public Health Service, United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Dr. Nahmias); Director of Laboratories and Chairman Infections Committee, St. Joseph's Infirmary (Dr. Godwin); Chief, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus Unit, Laboratory Branch, Communicable Disease Center (Dr. Updyke); Chief of Thoracic Surgery, St. Joseph's Infirmary ( Dr. Hopkins ).

JAMA. 1960;174(10):1269-1275. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03030100037009

Epidemics of staphylococcic infection in operating rooms have stimulated a critical interest in the origin and mode of transmission. The patience, ingenuity, and thoroughness required for the solution of such problems are illustrated by the account of Surgeon C, identified as the precipitating source of an epidemic. He was involved in 15 thoracic operations in which staphylococcic complications developed. Strains of staphylococci cultured from his face, nose, and hands were found, by antibiograms and phage typing, to be the same as those obtained from lesions in the infected patients. Pertinent questions are the reasons for Surgeon C's propensity for carrying epidemic strains and for his reversion, without treatment, to a negative carrier state. After a carrier has been identified and transferred, strict adherence to aseptic techniques will reduce the morbidity and mortality.