Human bacteria kill English hedgehog


This video from England says about itself:

In the gardens of London during the hours of darkness in springtime, a strange and fascinating ritual is taking place – hedgehog mating. This entertaining clip shows David Attenborough examining how these prickly creatures get intimate. From the BBC’s Life of Mammals.

From Wildlife Extra:

Human sore throat bacteria found to have led to the death of a hedgehog

A post mortem carried out by the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) Institute of Zoology has, for the first time, identified that a human sore throat pathogen was responsible for the death of a wild hedgehog.

The free-living European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) was found dead in northern England and a post-mortem examination and detailed laboratory testing confirmed the presence of the pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, typically found in humans with sore throat or rash-like symptoms.

The pathogen was characterised as emm 28, a strain associated with invasive disease in humans. The discovery is the first known report of this human pathogen in a hedgehog, and in any free-living wild animal, as confirmed by gene sequencing.

The pathogen was determined to be the cause of death in the hedgehog, the bacteria having likely entered the body via a tooth root abscess, before spreading to other tissues.

A paper, written by Lydia Franklinos, a wildlife veterinarian within ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, and published in EcoHealth, hypothesises that the case may have resulted from the transfer of infection from human to hedgehog via anthroponotic infection, or reverse zoonosis.

It is thought that the opportunities for direct and indirect contact between wild hedgehogs and humans could be a possible explanation for this unexpected finding.

Franklinos says: “While it is more common to hear about zoonotic diseases originating from wildlife, we rarely encounter disease transferring from human to animal, as appears to be the case here.

“We need to be vigilant, and continue to monitor the threat to wildlife from humans and their activities.

“The hedgehog is in decline in the UK, and I would encourage further research on the pathogens of hedgehogs to better understand disease threats to the species in order to inform conservation efforts.”

The post mortem was carried out as part of Garden Wildlife Health (www.gardenwildlifehealth.org), an initiative which aims to monitor the health of, and identify disease threats to, British wildlife.

Pentagon sent live anthrax to Britain as well


This video says about itself:

19 July 2011

Anthrax is a serious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium that forms spores. Anthrax is a zoonotic disease that is transmissible to humans through the handling or consumption of contaminated animal products.

From the Daily Mirror in Britain:

Deadly ANTHRAX samples sent to UK after high security US defence facility blunder

17:43, 9 June 2015

By Christopher Bucktin

The American Defence Department has added Britain to the list of countries with laboratories that had received the deadly bacteria

The Pentagon has admitted a high security American biodefense facility mistakenly sent live anthrax samples to a laboratory in the UK.

The American Defence Department has added Britain to the list of countries with laboratories that had received the deadly bacteria.

Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed an unidentified laboratory in the UK had been wrongly sent anthrax.

It comes less than a week after it emerged a US military base in Utah sent live anthrax samples to three other foreign nations as well as 51 laboratories in 17 American states – more than previously disclosed.

The other countries were Australia, Canada and South Korea.

At least four batches of anthrax samples shipped from the US military’s Utah Dugway Proving Ground lab contained live spores.

The anthrax was sent via Fed Ex.

Red faced Pentagon chiefs scrambled to contain the deadly bacteria last week as the Defence Department said it is testing “at least” 400 batches to see if any of it is alive.

The scandal was only discovered when an independent lab in Maryland began to cultivate live anthrax from a shipment, that began being sent in 2006, that was supposed to be dead.

Four labs have been found to be shipping anthrax although Dugway Proving Ground is at the centre of the scandal.

The Defence Department said there is no sign that the sending of the samples of the potentially lethal bacteria was the result of deliberate action. …

Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, forms spores that, if inhaled, can cause serious death.

THAT TIME THE PENTAGON SENT LIVE ANTHRAX TO ALL FIFTY STATES How does this happen? [Military.com]

HOW THE ARMY MISTAKENLY SHIPPED LIVE ANTHRAX And mishandled VX chemical nerve agent and poisonous Botulinum neurotoxin A. [USA Today]

DOCUMENTING THE INCIDENTS IN BIOTERROR LABS ACROSS THE COUNTRY “Laboratories reported more than 230 safety incidents with bioterror viruses and bacteria last year, hundreds of workers were monitored for potential exposures and a handful of labs had their permits suspended because of violations that raised ‘significant concerns for imminent danger,’ according to a report released Thursday by federal lab regulators in response to a White House call for greater public transparency.” [USA Today]

Tree protects itself against insects and bacteria, video


Warden Pauline Arends made this time-lapse video in Drenthe province in the Netherlands. It shows a foamy soap-like substance at an oak tree. The substance is called saponin. In this way, the tree protects itself against insects and bacteria.

Pauline Arends wrote about this in a blog post.

Bacteria on the North Sea bottom: here.

Snakes, scorpions may prevent hospital patients dying


This National Geographic video is about deadly snakes.

Translated from Leiden university in the Netherlands, 14 August 2014:

Poison of snakes and scorpions for new antibiotics

Hospital bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics are a growing problem. The Leiden antibiotic expert Gilles van Wezel will, along with colleague Michael Richardson and experts in the Leiden university hospital and Naturalis museum, look for new antibiotics, made from the poison of snakes and scorpions. To do that, he will get a cash injection from the Scientific Research Organisation.

A treatment that improves the lives of nearly 1.3 million people with rheumatoid arthritis might one day originate from scorpion venom. A group of researchers led by Dr. Christine Beeton at Baylor College of Medicine has found that one of the hundreds of components in scorpion venom can reduce the severity of the disease in animal models, without inducing side effects associated with similar treatments. The study appears in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics: here.

In the first study of its kind, scientists have shown scorpions can fine-tune their venom to suit different predators and prey: here.

Researchers have documented 104 scorpions spanning dozens of countries, providing a vital update to the global record of medically significant scorpions, or scorpions whose venom could be alternately gravely harmful or medically beneficial to human beings: here.

Bahamas, built by bacteria from Saharan dust?


This video says about itself:

Wildlife of Exuma Island, Bahamas – Lonely Planet travel video

Visitors to sparsely populated Exuma, a remote island in the Bahamas, can expect a close encounter with sharks and iguanas.

From New Scientist:

Bahamian paradise built by bacteria using Saharan dust

13:40 28 July 2014 by Flora Graham

The Bahamas may have been created by bacteria thriving on minerals in dust from the Sahara desert, 8000 kilometres away.

In this NASA satellite image from 2009, it is possible to see how the many islands of the Bahamas are actually the highest points of distinct areas where the sea is shallow and turquoise.

These turquoise waters mark the top of the Bahama Banks – underwater columns of coral reef limestone more than 4500 metres tall that have formed over the past 100 million years. It was thought that tiny plants and animals generate the vast amounts of carbonate that make up the towers, similar to how coral reefs are formed. But the surrounding sea is poor in nutrients, so what would have sustained them is a mystery.

Now researchers including Peter Swart from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Florida are showing that photosynthetic cyanobacteria may actually have done much of the construction.

Cyanobacteria are involved in the precipitation of calcium carbonate in the sea, but they would have needed an enormous amount of iron to do their work. This could have been provided by the dust that blows across the Atlantic from the Sahara.

There are characteristic traces of iron and manganese in recent carbonate sediment on the banks, pointing to their Saharan origin. So the team suggests that the Bahama Banks are being built up by cyanobacteria and may also have been in the past.

The results of this research are here.

Lyme disease ticks discovery, 15 million years old


This video is called The amber fossils secret – Dominican Republic.

From LiveScience:

Ancient Lyme Disease Bacteria Found in 15-Million-Year-Old Tick Fossils

By Megan Gannon, News Editor | May 30, 2014 05:18pm ET

The oldest known evidence of Lyme disease may lie in ticks that were entombed in amber at least 15 million years ago, scientists announced.

The researchers investigated four fossilized ticks that had been trapped in chunks of amber found in the Dominican Republic. Inside the ticks’ bodies, the scientists saw a large population of cells that looked like the squiggly shaped spirochete cells of the Borrelia genus — a type of bacteria that causes Lyme disease today.

Bacteria, which arose on the planet 3.6 billion years ago, rarely survive in the fossil record. But amber, the hardened resin from oozing trees, can preserve soft tissues and microscopic cells that would otherwise degrade over time. In recent years, scientists have discovered the 100-million-year-old gut microbes of a termite and 40-million-year-old sperm from an insect-like springtail, both trapped in amber. [Photos: Ancient Life Trapped in Amber]

The newfound bacteria species was dubbed Palaeoborrelia dominicana. The findings suggest illnesses like Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases may have been plaguing animals long before humans ever walked Earth.

Today, ticks are more significant disease-carrying insects

They are arachnids, not insects

than mosquitos in the United States, Europe and Asia, said entomologist George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, lead author of the study detailed in the journal Historical Biology last month.

“They can carry bacteria that cause a wide range of diseases, affect many different animal species, and often are not even understood or recognized by doctors,” Poinar said in a statement. “It’s likely that many ailments in human history for which doctors had no explanation have been caused by tick-borne disease.”

Lyme disease, for example, wasn’t formally recognized until the 1970s even though it affects thousands of people each year. In 2009, there were 30,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Humans acquire the disease when bitten by ticks that carry Borrelia bacteria. But because it has symptoms that overlap with many other disorders — including rash, aches, fatigue and fever — Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed.

The oldest documented case of Lyme disease in humans comes from the famous 5,300-year-old ice mummy dubbed Ötzi, discovered in the Eastern Alps about 20 years ago. In a 2012 study detailed in the journal Nature Communications, scientists said they found genetic material for the Borrelia bacteriain the iceman.

“Before he was frozen in the glacier, the iceman was probably already in misery from Lyme disease,” Poinar said. “He had a lot of health problems and was really a mess.”

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Curaçao coral reefs and sponges


This video is called Caribbean Coral Reefs.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) on Wednesday 20 November 2013:

Coral reefs around the world are naturally surrounded by nutrient depleted waters. One might suspect a lack of nutrients would prohibit their growth; however, coral reefs are amongst the most biodiversity-rich marine ecosystems in the world. Charles Darwin observed this during his voyage on the Beagle in the 19th century, but only now has that phenomenon, aptly called ‘Darwin’s Paradox’, been explained.

A team of researchers has recently looked into the role of sponges on the coral reefs around Curaçao and found some surprising results. By recycling vast amounts of organic matter, it is the sponges that keep the reef alive. Bacteria have the reputation to be ‘nature’s recyclers’, but on coral reefs they are not abundant enough to serve as the recyclers of the whole reef community. Sponges were found to be bigger recyclers than bacteria and to produce nearly as many nutrients as all the primary producers, corals and algae, in a tropical reef combined.

By feeding the sponges isotope-labelled sugars, and by tracing these molecules on their journey, they found that the sugars were quickly shed to the seabed in dead cells (detritus). Within two days, the same molecules were present in snails and other lower organisms that feed on the sediment containing dead sponge cells. These organisms are in turn eaten by larger animals, and so the cycle continues.

Apart from the speed, it was the sheer volume of food turnover which took the researchers by surprise; nearly tenfold the amount that is recycled by bacteria. To illustrate this, the sponge Halisarca caerulea takes up two-thirds of its body weight in dissolved organic matter every day, but barely grows in size because old cells are continuously shed to the seabed.

Recognising this newly discovered role of sponges for these threatened and fragile ecosystems will hopefully aid coral reef conservation efforts worldwide.

Read the entire article in BioNews.

Three shipwrecks were removed from coral reefs in the Pacific. How long will it take the reefs to recover? Here.

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