Rabbit plague germs can live without a host for months, making them a potential bio-weapon.
The mystery of the transmission of tularemia is solved.
Francisella tularensis bacteria are among the most pathogenic bacteria that science has discovered. The bacteria produce tularemia, a reportable zoonosis that primarily affects rodents such as rabbits, hence the disease’s other name, rabbit plague. Tularemia is a disease that can be fatal if it affects humans. A scientific team recently solved a long-standing mystery about how the disease had spread.
Researchers at Northern Arizona University have solved a mystery of tularemia transmission. The study offers a credible explanation of how Francisella tularensis can live in the environment for long periods of time without a host. The researchers published their results in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Francisella tularensis: a bio-weapon in the making?
Francisella tularensis is considered a serious potential bio-terrorist threat due to the bacterium’s exceptional infectivity and the high death rate of the American subtype. According to the researchers, it takes ten organisms to infect an individual. An important goal is to better understand the life cycle and behavior of the bacterium, according to the researchers.
The enigmatic life cycle of Francisella tularensis
However, there were certain gaps in our understanding of how the bacterium was transmitted. For example, Francisella tularensis cannot be spread through human contact. However, it can be transmitted to humans through direct or indirect contact with infected animals. In addition, the bacterium can survive for long periods of time outside the host in a dormant state. The researchers were now able to learn more about the life cycle of the dangerous bacterium.
The bacterium in hibernation
As the research group shows, the rabbit plague pathogens can survive outside of hosts by going into a kind of hibernation. In this state they remain viable, but cannot reproduce. This phenomenon has remained largely a mystery to this day, although researchers have been studying the bacterium for more than 100 years.
Tularemia pathogens survive for six months without a host
As part of a three-year project, the researchers analyzed the life cycle and behavior of the pathogen. “The most important finding is that Francisella tularensis more than survives in cold water with no nutrients. Bulgarian Business Journal Newsflash.