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B. A Hospital Disaster In the Making

Narrator: This is Science Today. You go to the hospital to get well, not sick, but there's a bacteria that lives in hospitals called enterococcus that infects a growing number of patients, according to Dr. Lee Riley of the University of California, Berkeley. Riley says one form of enterococcus is resistant to all antibiotics, meaning it's essentially untreatable. What's more disturbing is the possibility that an even more common bacteria, staphylococcus, or staph, will also become antibiotic resistant.

Riley: The fact that this has already happened with enterococcus is indeed a concern that this may transfer into staphylococcus.

Narrator: In which case going to the hospital might get pretty risky.

Riley: Well, if that happens then we essentially run out of antibiotics to treat patients if they come down with these infections. We're going to be reaching a state called "pre-antibiotic era" even though we have all these antibiotics, with these organisms.

Narrator: Staph infections often occur after surgery. So if resistant staph gets loose in the operating room, Riley says the practice of surgery will be crippled.

Riley: This would be a major disaster on a national scale if this happened.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.