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article imagePotentially Deadly Bacteria Discovered by US Scientists

By Tea Lulic     Jun 7, 2007 in Health
The new, previously unknown strain of bacteria was found in a 43 year old American woman who had traveled across Peru for three weeks. During her trip, she developed symptoms similar to typhoid fever or malaria. The woman has since recovered.
The bacteria was named Bartonella rochalimae and it is a very close relative of the bacteria that sickened thousands of soldiers during First World War - so called trench fever which was then spread through body lice.
To make things worse, this new species is also related to the strain of bacteria found 10 years ago during the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. This bacteria is the cause of cat scratch disease which affects approximately 25,000 people a year in U.S.
Previous work on the above mentioned bacteria, led scientists to isolate Bartonella in the female traveler.
Two weeks after she returned from Peru, the woman suffered from potentially life-threatening anemia, a rash, an enlarged spleen, insomnia and a high fever. This lasted for a couple of weeks. However, he traveling companion did not become ill.
The experts at first thought that the cause of her illness was a bacteria that spreads by sand flies. However, further research pointed that this was a new strain altogether.
Dr. Jane Koehler has already seen what this type of bacteria can do to one's body. She encountered it in 1987 while at the AIDS Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital.
"The bacteria were eating away a bone in the arm of an AIDS patient - for months," Koehler said. "They can cause extremely painful lesions and tumors of blood vessels on the skin of immunocompromised patients."
This type of bacteria is treated with an antibiotic.
"When a patient has a high and persistent fever, we need to come up with the correct diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible - particularly for those with a weakened immune system, who can die from the infection," Koehler said.
I think the world will see and hear more about these kinds of bacteria in the future. The bacteria must have existed for years. Who knows what else we are going to find or what is going to emerge as the new species. We're lucky that there is a cure for this bacteria but it is a question whether we will be lucky as the new strains emerge.
More about Bacteria, Deadly, New strain
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