This imaginative and chillingly realistic thriller by the pseudonymous authors of Carriers may encourage an epidemic of hypochondria. Setting their tale in present-day L.A., Philip Sington and Gary Humphreys, writing together as Lynch, play brilliantly on fears stirred up by recent medical headlines about flesh-eating bacteria and the proliferation of other antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. Describing the citywide spread of an inexorable infection, the authors detail the way staph flourishes inside a single body. Dr. Marcus Ford, a surgeon and head of the trauma unit at a large public hospital in South Central L. A., speaks out at a medical conference about the frightening spread of antibiotic resistance, fomented in part by greedy drug companies who encourage people to use their products recklessly. Even as he warns against a return to the dark days when simple infections could be fatal, a ""super staph"" explodes in his wards. Dr. Marshall West, head of the county's health services, and Helen Wray, an attractive drug company executive, express support for Ford's crusade. More promisingly, a mysterious scientist, Charles Novak, hints at the existence of a genetically engineered super-antibiotic called Omega. People begin dying of the staph infection in droves, and Ford's teenage daughter comes down with the tell-tale sore throat. Novak is murdered, and both Helen and Marshall West turn out to have secret agendas. As Ford races to get his hands on Omega, the writing occasionally is less than graceful, but the excitement rarely falters and the story hits the jugular nerve. Movie rights to Universal Studios; foreign rights sold in Italy, Germany, Denmark and Japan. (Sept.) FYI: Carriers is slated as a CBS-TV movie.