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 Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

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: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>