Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Professor Discovers New TB Pathogen

01.10.2010
Kathleen Alexander, associate professor of wildlife in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, has discovered a novel tuberculosis (TB) species in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, a group of pathogens that have adapted by using mammals as hosts. It has been nearly two decades since a new organism was identified in this group; the majority were discovered in the early and mid 20th century.

Tuberculosis is presently the leading cause of death from infectious disease, infecting more than a third of the world’s population.

Alexander discovered that banded mongoose — a species common in central and eastern Africa — that were living closely with humans in northern Botswana were dying from a mysterious, tuberculosis-like disease. She and colleagues have now identified the pathogen as M. mungi sp. nov., a previously unidentified bacteria species from the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex.

A pathogen is any living agent causing disease, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, and certain insect larval stages.

“This pathogen behaves very differently from the other tuberculosis infections in the complex and offers us a great opportunity to learn what drives tuberculosis evolution and ecology, providing possible insight into the control of this important group of pathogens,” Alexander pointed out.

Tuberculosis normally manifests as a respiratory disease and is spread through breathing the bacteria into the lungs, but M. mungi behaves in a completely different way. The infection appears to be associated with environmental exposure and movement of the pathogen into the banded mongoose host through the animal’s nose, possibly through abrasions on the surface of the nose that might result from feeding activity.

Unlike other species of tuberculosis, which typically present as a chronic disease, M. mungi usually kills infected banded mongoose within two to three months after symptoms develop, with outbreaks occurring in a largely seasonal pattern.

M. mungi threatens the survival of smaller social groups or troops of banded mongoose in the study area. The source of infection and the full host range of this pathogen are areas of active research at Alexander’s long-term study site in Botswana.

“Banded mongoose are able to live closely with people in disturbed environments as well as with other wildlife species in pristine environments,” Alexander noted. “Since the majority of pathogens emerge in wildlife species, this study system offers a critical opportunity for us to begin to understand how our modifications to the environment and interactions with wildlife influence how new diseases may emerge.”

The article about the emergence of M. mungi, “Novel Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex Pathogen, M. mungi,” by Alexander and Pete N. Laver, of Virginia Tech and the Centre for Conservation of African Resources: Animals, Communities and Land Use, Kasane, Botswana; Anita L. Michel of the ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, Pretoria, South Africa; Mark Williams of University of Pretoria; and Paul D. van Helden, Robin M. Warren, and Nicolaas C. Gey van Pittius of Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, South Africa, has been published in the August 2010 issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases (http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/16/8/1296.htm ). Alexander plans to continue investigating this new pathogen species, as there is still much to learn about its ecology, transmission dynamics, and potential threats to human and wildlife health.

Currently, Alexander and her student research associates are intensively studying the behavior and ecology of banded mongoose and this new tuberculosis pathogen across both urban and protected area environments in her study site in Botswana. In addition, Alexander and her colleagues from Stellenbosch University in South Africa are studying the pathogen’s molecular characteristics and using molecular tools to identify transmission dynamics. She is also evaluating samples from humans, other animals, and the environment in the study area as she searches for the pathogen’s source.

“This project is like a great mystery novel because there is so much we don’t know yet, but we’ll find out,” Alexander said.

Lynn Davis | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders
28.06.2017 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

New photoacoustic technique detects gases at parts-per-quadrillion level

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Funding of Collaborative Research Center developing nanomaterials for cancer immunotherapy extended

28.06.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>