"So, naturalists observe, a flea has smaller fleas that on him prey; and these have smaller still to bite ’em; and so proceed ad infinitum."
- Jonathan Swift

April 7, 2010

April 7 - Brucella abortus

Brucella abortus is a gram-negative bacterium that uses cattle and other ruminants as its primary host. It can however, also be transmitted to humans and will produce a disease known as "Malta fever" or "undulant fever", characterized by sweating and joint pain and the latter name specifically referring to the waves of fever that a patient can show. Brucellosis is a major health threat to cattle because it causes a high degree of spontaneous abortions, thus all cattle in the U.S. (and many other countries, for that matter) must be vaccinated against this pathogen. Recently farmers in the U.S. West have become worried that wild ungulates such as elk and bison might transfer the bacteria to their herds. Humans can acquire the bacteria either from coming into physical contact with infected cattle or even by drinking milk or eating meat from infected animals. The genomes of two strains of B. abortus have been completely sequenced and these bacteria are somewhat unusual in having two separate chromosomes.

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