Scientists Discover New Anthrax-Like Disease in Africa!
In recent news, a new type of pathogen has been discovered in Central Africa. This new pathogen has been identified as causing an anthrax-like disease, which can infect both domestic and wild animals. This includes infecting our closest evolutionary relatives.
A new anthrax-like disease could be potentially disastrous if it were to spread. Join us as we look at what scientists discovered and how widespread the disease currently is within Africa.
A Look at This New Anthrax
Anthrax is a life-threatening disease, caused by a bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. This disease can be contracted by coming into contact with contaminated animal products, or infected animals or people.
A closely related bacteria, known as Bacillus cereus, is more widespread and typically less severe. However, a new strain of Bacillus cereus has developed. This strain looks to be far more malicious than others we’ve discovered.
Scientists from the Robert Koch Institute were sampling goats in a relatively remote Congolese village when they came across the new bacteria in an animal that was dying.
They went on to find the same strain present in the remains of a chimpanzee, gorilla, and forest elephant in surrounding areas. This all contributed to the discovery of a new B. cereus bacteria.
The new strain, named B. cereus biovar anthracis shows a mixture of features from both bacteria that is borrows characteristics from.
These findings were published in the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases journal shortly after the discovery.
How Far Has This New Disease Spread?
Unlike other strains of this bacteria, B. cereus biovar anthracis has two small plasmids encoded onto the genes, known as pXO1 and pXO2. This makes it unique from other strains and more virulent.
Researchers suspect that this strain may be more widespread through the African continent than they’ve already seen. Speculation suggests that it can only spread as well as it does in humid environments.
Since the disease is present within local chimpanzees and gorillas, in addition to livestock, researchers are suggesting that surveillance should be carried out. This would ensure that the disease doesn’t spread unchecked into the local people living in the area.
New diseases are never good news. What do you think of this news? Share your thoughts in the comments!