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March 1961

Water Bugs in the Bassinet

Am J Dis Child. 1961;101(3):273-277. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1961.04020040001001

Some years ago your editor demonstrated to a group of cub scouts the growth of bacterial colonies following thumb prints on the surface of agar plates. A fantastic assortment of red, purple, orange, gold, and white colonies grew from the print of one small boy who had a few minutes previously been groping for guppies in my aquarium. The luxurious growth provided dramatic affirmation of a whole science of water bacteriology. Touched upon only briefly by the average doctor in his college days, and avoided and forgotten thereafter because of the professor's assurance that "water bugs" are nonpathogenic, these mundane environmental contaminants are gaining status. Gram-negative bacilli, they possess such formidable names as: Pseudomonas (149 species), Xanthomonas (74 species), Alcaligenes (6 species), Achromobacter (15 species), Flavobacterium (26 species), Chromobacterium (4 species), Aerobacter (2 species), Paracolobactrum (4 species), Erwinia (17 species), Serratia (5 species). Their description fills a large portion of

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