A consultant and his colleague at the laboratory department at the University of Southern Denmark discovered bacteria they had never seen before in a sample taken from a patient with blood poisoning.
“We ran a number of comprehensive DNA analyses in an attempt to find out what we had found,” explains Ulrik Stenz Justesen, an assistant professor in clinical microbiology at the University of Southern Denmark and a consultant at the Department of Microbiology at Odense University Hospital.
It turned out to be an entirely new species, he says. “To our surprise we discovered that the closest relative of this bacteria was one found in the alimentary tract of termites in Congo’s rain forests.” The news has been published in the science journal Genome Announcements.
The newly-found bacteria was given the name Terrisporobacter othiniensis, after the city where it was discovered; Othiniensis is Latin for Odense.
Although similar to the termite bacteria, the scientists do not believe the man has been in contact with these insects. The bacteria is likely to be one, which like thousands of others, live in the human gut but this one accidentally ended up in the blood of the patient, explains Justesen.
“This bacteria is an anaerobic bacteria so it is highly likely to have transferred from the patient’s gut into his bloodstream. How we don’t know — but probably through a perforation in the gut,” he adds.
When patients are found with new bacteria in their blood, it could give rise to concern — but it shouldn’t, says Justesen.
“This is the first case in the whole world. It also means that many years have gone by without the bacteria making people ill. Every single human being has as many as 1,000 different bacteria in their intestines and in this instance the bacteria found its way into the bloodstream. The patient didn’t get seriously ill, but it was a hint that something else was wrong,” says Justesen.
The bacteria may be quite normal in Europe but hasn’t been discovered before now, suggests Professor Thomas Bjarnsholt from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen.
Source: Science Nordic