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Odd Creatures in the Blood and Cerebrospinal Fluid

John D. Nelson, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1976;130(8):800-801. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1976.02120090010002.
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Years ago, when Warren Wheeler was the Editor of the Journal, he anonymously penned a charming, opinion-molding editorial with the catchy title, "Water Bugs in the Bassinet."1 From that moment, "water bugs" entered the lexicon of medical jargon and, more importantly, pediatricians first became aware of the pathogenic potential of a host of saprophytic, free-living bacteria that we had all been taught were nonpathogenic. Soon, physicians were taking seriously the bacteriology laboratory reports of Erwinia herbicola, Aeromonas hydrophila, and other strange things previously disregarded as contaminants.

The list of exotic microorganisms causing disease in newborns and other compromised hosts has grown over the years. Now, physicians who hardly know a Petri dish from Royal Crown Derby china more or less comfortably toss around names like Serratia marcescens, Pseudomonas cepacia, and Flavobacterium species—a veritable index from Bergey's Manual. It has been a challenge to physicians to learn to respect these


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