Josiah Cooper-Pope, born 15 weeks premature, did fine in the neonatal intensive care unit for the first 10 days of his life. Then, suddenly, his tiny body started to swell.
His mother, Shala Bowser, said nurses at Chippenham Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, told her that Josiah had an infection and that she should prepare for the worst. On Sept. 2, 2010, she was allowed to hold him for the first and last time as he took his final breath. He was 17 days old.
What no one at the hospital told Bowser was that her newborn was the fourth baby in the neonatal unit to catch the same infection, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better-known as MRSA. It would sicken eight more, records show – nearly every baby in the unit – before the outbreak had run its course.