'Clinical time capsule' uncovered in a woman’s leg

Researcher describes 78-year-old strain of staph

By Jim Fessenden

UMass Medical School Communications

February 02, 2012
  Daniel Libraty, MD

Daniel Libraty, MD, associate professor of medicine, talked to the Boston Globe about his article in the Feb. 2 edition of New England Journal of Medicine describing a 78-year-old strain of staph bacteria found in the leg of a patient who was first treated for the infection in 1934.

Though impossible to confirm with 100 percent accuracy, Dr. Libraty believes the staphylococcus aureus bacteria that led to a fracture in the woman’s femur in 2009 was not a new infection but a reactivation of the one she experienced as a 10-year-old child. Most staph bacteria became impervious to penicillin shortly after its introduction in 1943. The strain found by Libraty was sensitive to all types of antibiotics, suggesting it was around before the advent of these drugs.

Library said that since this is one of the oldest cases of reactivated staph, staph researchers interested in further studying the bacteria’s genome may be interested in sequencing the 78-year-old sample to better understand the evolution of the strains of bacteria that have developed since then.

Is staph infection a ‘time capsule’ from 1934?
The Boston Globe – February 2, 2012

Is staph infection a from 1934?
Boston.com – February 1, 2012