Nosocomial Infection

No clear bacterial culprit for NEC

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Science  20 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6228, pp. 1326
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6228.1326-c

Pre-term infants are especially susceptible to necrotizing enterocolitis

PHOTO: BLEND IMAGES - ERPRODUCTIONS LTD/GETTY IMAGES

Of all the obstacles faced by premature infants, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a particularly scary one. The disease kills developing intestinal tissues and sometimes the infants themselves. Scientists still don't know what causes NEC, but because the disease responds to antibiotics, they suspect that a contagious bacterium may be to blame. Raveh-Sadka et al. used a metagenomics approach to identify the microbes present in premature hospitalized infants during a NEC outbreak. They found that these babies shared very few bacterial strains, suggesting that no single bacterium caused the outbreak. Although this indicates that hospitals have good barriers in place to stop the spread of dangerous bacteria in these fragile infants, the cause of NEC remains a mystery.

eLife 4, e05477 (2015).

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