Oral Bacterium Linked to Serious Disease
A newly identified bacterium, thought to be a common inhabitant of the oral
cavity, could cause serious disease if it enters the bloodstream, according to a study in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.
Identifying the oral bacterium will allow scientists to examine how it causes
disease and evaluate the risk that it poses, according to a news release.
Researchers at the Institute of Medical Microbiology of the University of Zurich identified the bacterium, which has been named Streptococcus tigurinus after the region of Zurich where it was first recognized. S. tigurinus, which bears a close resemblance to other streptococcus strains that colonize the mouth, was isolated from multiple blood cultures of patients suffering
from endocarditis, meningitis, and spondylodiscitis (inflammation of the spine), the study noted. Bleeding gums provide a possible route of entry for oral bacteria into the bloodstream.
The authors stated that comparative gene sequencing studies showed that the organisms were members of the Streptococcus mitis group but did not correspond to any recognized species. Based on biochemical and molecular analyses, the novel isolates represent a new species.
The similarity of S. tigurinus to other related bacteria has meant that it has existed until now without being identified and its recent identification is clinically important, explained Andrea Zbinden, MD, who led the study.
“Accurate identification of this bacterium is essential to be able to track its
spread. Further research must now be done to understand the strategies S. tigurinus uses to successfully cause disease,” Zbinden said in a news release. “This will allow infected patients to be treated quickly and with the right drug.”