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Topics in Clinical Microbiology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Rosemary Verrall
Affiliation:
Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee

Extract

Serratia marcescens has an interesting and many-faceted history. The presence of the red pigmented organism on starchy food products long had been noted and was thought to be blood; its presence on consecrated wafers was thought to be the blood of Christ. It was not until 1819 that Bizio, a pharmacist, demonstrated that a microorganism was responsible for the red pigment. He named this microorganism Serratia marcescens; Serratia in honor of Serafino Serrati, an Italian physicist who invented the steamboat and marcescens from the Latin, “to decay.”

Because of the pigment production and because Serratia marcescens was believed to be a benign, saprophytic organism, it was used widely as a biological marker from 1906 to 1968. This use has been controversial in regard to experiments conducted by the US Army involving biological warfare techniques. In addition, the recognition in the 1950s of the ability of this organism to cause nosocomial infections has curtailed its use as a biological marker. Serratia marcescens is now recognized as a cause of serious infections in man. It has been implicated in practically every kind of infection and is a particularly serious problem with nosocomial infections.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America 1983

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References

1.Yu, VL.: Serratia marcescens. Historical perspective and clinical review. N Engl J Med 1979;300:887892.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
2.von Graevenitz, A, Rubin, SJ (eds): The Genus Serratia. Boca Raton, CRC Press Inc, 1980.Google Scholar
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5.Graziano, CC, Dickinson, PC. Goldiner, PL, et al: Serratia marcescens pneumonia. Arch Surg 1977;112:12201224.Google Scholar
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7.Edwards, PR, Ewing, WH: Identification of Enterbacteriaceae. ed 3. Minneapolis, Burgess Publishing Co, 1972, p 310.Google Scholar
8.Sanders, C. Sanders, WE: Emergence of resistance during therapy with the newer β-lactam antibiotics: Role of inducible β-lactamases and implications for the future. Rev Infect Dis 1983;5:639648.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
9.Hamilton, RL. Brown, WJ: Bacteriophage typing of clinic ally isolated Serratia marcescens. Applied Microbiology 1972;24:899906.Google Scholar
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