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News Briefs II

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Ravages 11-Month-Old Girl

Los Angeles Times

An 11-month-old girl fought for life in a pediatric intensive care unit Tuesday, her body ravaged by flesh-eating bacteria.

After removing strips of dead tissue from her chest and back, surgeons began grafting cadaver skin to her tiny frame Tuesday afternoon in hopes of staving off deadly infection.

"This child has lost 20 percent of her skin," said plastic surgeon Stephen Bresnick of Northridge Hospital Medical Center. "She's lost muscle. She's lost fat. Her ribs are exposed."

The girl, identified only as Baby Rosa, remained on life support and massive doses of antibiotics Tuesday. She was in critical condition but was improving, though doctors said only about half of patients with such severe cases of flesh-eating bacteria survive.

Doctors remain mystified about how Rosa caught the disease, but believe it sprang from a simple staph infection - Staphylococcus aureus, the same bacteria that causes boils and other relatively harmless skin conditions.

Baby Rosa's parents, who have asked not to be identified, first noticed something wrong on June 30, when Rosa broke out with a mild fever. Rosa's mother took her to an Oxnard physician, who took a throat culture and sent the girl home, said Dr. Hooshang Semnani, head of pediatric critical care at Northridge Hospital.

On July 1, her mother drove Rosa to Mexico to visit a family doctor in Tijuana. After spotting a bright red rash on Rosa's back, the physician told her mother to drive back to Los Angeles immediately and check her into a hospital, Semnani said.

If she survives, Baby Rosa faces more surgery and will be left with a significant deformity, Bresnick said. Her parents do not have health insurance, a hospital spokeswoman said, but the baby's doctors and Northridge Hospital said they will provide care regardless.

Motorola Reports Earnings Plunge

The Washington Post

Motorola Inc., announced Tuesday that its operating profit shrank almost to zero in the second quarter, confirming new troubles at a technology giant that for years was known for solid profitability.

The company did manage to avoid the operating losses that many analysts had predicted it would report. But it offered little hope of a quick recovery. Chief executive Christopher Galvin said in a statement that "the negative impact on our business is likely to continue for at least the remainder of the year." Galvin pledged new efforts to restructure and refocus the company, building on the cuts of 15,000 jobs, about 10 percent of its work force, that were announced last month. Galvin cited a weak semiconductor market and economic crisis in Asia in explaining the poor numbers. But many analysts see management problems playing a major role.

"It is internal structural problems," said Greg Geiling, a telecommunications analyst at investment bank J.P. Morgan & Co. "The markets they sell into, other than semiconductors, are booming."

Motorola has mistakenly "acted like a company in a leadership position whose market share is invincible," said Mark Lowenstein, vice president of wireless research at the Yankee Group, a Boston-based market research firm. "They haven't proven as nimble in reacting to competition."