Adaptation to antibiotics has been one of the outstanding characteristics of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This ability has been considered a basis for its prevalence as an etiologic agent in hospital-acquired infections, due to the obvious ecologic advantage of this adaptability in a closed population. Although staphylococcal resistance was reported shortly after introduction of most antibiotics, this was not true for neomycin. Systemic toxicity of neomycin limited its usefulness. Nevertheless, the 11-year period between introduction of neomycin for clinical use and reports of hospital problems with neomycin-resistant staphylococci1 seems surprising, considering the drug's extensive use in topical therapy.
During a recent study of pyoderma among Indian children on the Red Lake and Cass Lake Reservations in Minnesota, reported in the June issue of the American Journal of Diseases of Children,2 staphylococcal isolates were analyzed for antibiotic sensitivity. There were 442 isolates of S aureus recovered from 213 patients,