Seven post-operative wounds were infected with a strain of Staphylococcus aureus, probably acquired from a theatre orderly who suffered from a dry generalized eczema. The orderly was a nasal and heavy skin carrier, and was shown to be a disperser of the epidemic strain. Infection was probably acquired from airborne contamination in the operating theatre, since the orderly did not scrub-up.
The epidemic strain (phage type 80/81 at 1,000 routine test dilution) was sensitive to penicillin and resistant to tetracycline and novobiocin. Neomycin resistance was variable. This strain was found to lose resistance to neomycin when subcultured in the absence of the antibiotic.
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