To the Editor.—Houck et al1 recently reported the complications of bacterial interference programs using Staphylococcus aureus 502A. Thirty-eight (5.9%) of the 644 deliberately colonized infants developed disease related to the 502A strain. One infant with an umbilical catheter developed a fatal septicemia. A second infant developed an abscess when a "superficial abrasion" of the left great toe became infected. And yet, the authors concluded from their study that S aureus 502A was a safe and effective means of aborting staphylococcal epidemics. They did mention the risk of using bacterial interference techniques for certain groups of infants—premature infants and those with umbilical catheters. As these and other infants at high risk for infection make up the usual population of an intensive care nursery (ICN), S aureus 502A may pose a considerable risk if used there.
Hexachlorophene bathing of the newborn and strict handwashing techniques have markedly decreased the incidence