Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Diseases of Another Kind

24.07.2014

In a new paper, UCSB researchers scrutinize a distinctive and prevalent type of infectious agent

The drought that has the entire country in its grip is affecting more than the color of people’s lawns. It may also be responsible for the proliferation of a heat-loving amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater bodies, such as lakes, rivers and hot springs, which the drought has made warmer than usual this year.

Legionella pneumophila

Legionella pneumophila, the bacteria responsible for Legionnaires' disease.

Photo Credit: iStock

A 9-year-old Kansas girl recently died of an infection caused by this parasite after swimming in several area lakes. The amoeba enters the body through the nose of an individual and travels to the brain. Nose plugs can lower the odds of this rare but fatal pathogen entering the body.

The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, is classified as a sapronosis, an infectious disease caused by pathogenic microorganisms that inhabit aquatic ecosystems and/or soil rather than a living host. Scientists at UC Santa Barbara studying infectious disease transmission published their findings in the latest issue of the journal Trends in Parasitology.

 “Sapronoses do not follow the rules of infectious diseases that are transmitted from host to host,” said lead author Armand Kuris, a professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology (EEMB). “They are categorically distinct from the way we think infectious diseases should operate. The paper tries to bring this group of diseases into sharp focus and get people to think more clearly about them.”

A well-known example of a sapronosis is Legionnaires’ disease, caused by the bacteria Legionella pneumophila, which can be transmitted by aerosolized water and/or contaminated soil. The bacteria can even live in windshield-wiper fluid. Legionnaires’ disease acquired its name in July 1976, when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending an American Legion convention at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. Of the 182 reported cases, mostly men, 29 died.

A major group of emerging diseases, sapronotic pathogens can exist independently in an environmental reservoir like the cooling tower of the Philadelphia hotel’s air conditioning system. Some, like the cholera protozoa, rely on mosquitoes to find disease hosts for them. Zoonoses, by contrast, require a human host.

According to Kuris, diseases borne by a vector — a person, animal or microorganism that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism — are more or less virulent depending on how efficiently they are transmitted. As a result, virulence evolves to a level where it is balanced with transmission in order to maximize the spread of the virus.  However, Kuris noted that there is no virulence trade-off for sapronotic disease agents. Transmission of a sapronosis pathogen is able to persist regardless of any changes in host abundance or transmission rates.

 To quantify the differences between sapronoses and conventional infectious diseases, the researchers developed a mathematical model using population growth rates. Of the 150 randomly selected human pathogens examined in this research, one-third turned out to be sapronotic — specifically 28.6 percent of the bacteria, 96.8 percent of the fungi and 12.5 percent of the protozoa.

“The fact that almost all of the fungi we looked at are sapronotic is a noteworthy generalization,” Kuris said.

“You can’t model a sapronosis like valley fever with classic models for infectious diseases,” said co-author Kevin Lafferty, adjunct faculty in EEMB and a marine ecologist with the Western Ecological Research Center of the U.S. Geological Survey. “To combat sapronoses, we need new theories and approaches. Our paper is a start in that direction.”

Julie Cohen | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.news.ucsb.edu/2014/014332/diseases-another-kind

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>