Bacteria thought to be innocuous are a hazard to children whose immunologic capability is reduced by disease or by immunosuppressive therapy. Among bacteria responsible for severe infections is Staphylococcus epidermidis, a common surface inhabitant, ordinarily of no consequence to a healthy host. In the August issue of the American Journal of Diseases of Children (AJDC), Louise Friedman and her colleagues at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Cornell University Medical College in New York City detail the role of S epidermidis as a cause of septicemia among 92 children with leukemia.1 They report that 12.7% of all septicemic episodes are caused by S epidermidis and explore the factors that have allowed this organism to become the fourth most frequent pathogen in their experience. The severity of S epidermidis septicemia is underscored by two deaths among the 19 patients affected.
Primary care physicians are now responsible for the ongoing care of children who