Published in TB and Outbreaks Week, November 2nd, 2004
Until the 1960s, Serratia marcescens was considered harmless - so safe, in fact, that the military secretly dispersed it across U.S. cities in germ warfare studies. Today, Serratia is blamed for urinary tract infections, infected surgical wounds and pneumonia, usually spread among hospital patients.
The germ that tainted the flu vaccine at a British factory is a common contaminant in labs - and lots of other places. Serratia is found in people's intestines, and possibly growing as pinkish scum in the shower, too.
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