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April 1961

Pseudomonas Eye Infection as a Cause of Death in Premature Infants

Author Affiliations

Portland, Ore.; Pittsburgh
John E. Weeks Memorial Laboratory, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Oregon Medical School (Dr. Burns); Department of Ophthalmology, Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh (Dr. Rhodes).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1961;65(4):517-525. doi:10.1001/archopht.1961.01840020519010

An ophthalmologist encounters many perturbing problems but rarely is faced with a patient whose life is in imminent danger. Such a situation occurs in Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Bacillus pyocyaneus) infection of the eye of the premature infant, a relatively unknown syndrome that is much more common than gonorrheal ophthalmia and greatly outweighs it in gravity. This disease merits the attention of the ophthalmologist.

Conjunctivitis in the newborn infant is usually due to one of 4 causes: gonorrheal ophthalmia neonatorum, chemical conjunctivitis from silver nitrate, staphylococcic infection, or inclusion blennorrhea. Of these, the most frequently considered, and rarest, is gonorrheal ophthalmia, the incidence of which is approximately 0.2% without silver nitrate prophylaxis and 0.013% if the Crede method of prophylaxis is used.1 Silver nitrate used for prophylaxis frequently causes conjunctivitis in the treated babies. Recently, staphylococci have been found to be an increasing cause of conjunctivitis, particularly in hospitals where antibiotic

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