During an 8-week period beginning February 11, 1972, 33 infants, born at the Boston City hospital, developed disease due to Group A, type 28, Steptococcus pyogenes. The administration of parenteral benzathin penicillin G to full term infants and oral penicillin V to low birth weight infants was effective in preventing subsequent infection and diesease. Concurrently, bacteriologic surveys indicated extensive colonization of newborn infants with Staphylococcus aureus. A double blind study of hexachlorophene compared with detergent base bathing in the prevention of staphylococcal infection and disease of the newborn infants was instituted. The diaper area including the umbilical stump was washed. The bathing procedure was instituted soon after delivery and once each day during the hospitalization and at home to complete a 3-week course. A surveillance system, including home visits during the third week of life, was established. Although a few infants with staphylococcal disease were diagnosed in the nursery, most infants with pustules, omphalitis, and conjunctivitis were identified through the home visit. Colonization rates of Staphylococcus aureus were similar in the two groups. Staphylococcal disease was significantly decreased in the hexachlorophene-bathed infants during the first 11 weeks of the study.

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