New Bacterium Arises in Immune-Deficient Patients

It's the first time this class of pathogens has caused illness in humans, experts say

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FRIDAY, April 14, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've identified a new disease-causing bacterium in people with a rare immune disorder called chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), which leaves people susceptible to frequent and sometimes deadly fungal and bacterial infections.

The new bacterium, Granulobacter bethesdensis, was identified by researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Md. They found the bacterium in the inflamed lymph nodes of a 39-year-old man with CGD.

The patient had suffered three months of unexplainable fever, chills, fatigue, night sweats and had lost 10 pounds before he was referred to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was given two different antibiotics, which failed to help.

Two months later, he developed painful swelling in the lymph nodes at the base of his neck. Doctors removed several lymph nodes and discovered extensive infection caused by G. bethesdensis.

The discovery is described in the April 14 issue of the journal PLoS Pathogens.

The new bacterium is part of the Acetobacteraceae family, which includes several kinds of bacteria found in the environment and used industrially to produce vinegar. This is the first time that any member of that bacterial family has been found to cause invasive human disease.

"The discovery of new bacteria is not uncommon, but discovering an organism that causes human illness is certainly unique and warrants further research," NIH Director Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni said in a prepared statement.

Since this study was accepted for publication, NIAID researchers have isolated G. bethesdensis in two more patients with CGD.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about CGD.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institutes of Health, news release, April 13, 2006

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