Lethal bug lurking inside the mouth could kill if it enters bloodstream, say scientists
A bacteria living in the mouth could cause serious disease or even kill if it enters the bloodstream, a new study warns.
Researchers have identified the bacterium, called Streptococcus tigurinus, for the first time and found it could prove fatal if it gains entry through bleeding gums into the bloods.
Scientists carried out tests, isolating the bacterium from the blood of patients suffering from endocarditis (inflammation of the heart), meningitis and spondylodiscitis (inflammation of the spine).
A bacteria living in the mouth could cause serious disease or even kill if it enters the bloodstream warns a new study
woman sticking out tongue
posed by model
They found the blood is similar to other Streptococcus strains that colonise the mouth.
The new research, published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, will allow scientists to work out how it causes disease and evaluate the threat it poses.
Dr Andrea Zbinden, of the University of Zurich in Switzerland who led the study, said: ‘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. This will allow infected patients to be treated quickly and with the right drug.'
The similarity of S. tigurinus to other bacteria means it has existed until now without being identified.
Dr Zbinden said the discovery by scientists is no cause for alarm, but it is important it is recognised and limited (file picture of a laboratory)
Dr Zbinden said the discovery is no cause for alarm, but it is important it is recognised and limited.
She added: 'This bacterium seems to have a natural potential to cause severe disease and so it’s important that clinicians and microbiologists are aware of it.
'The next step is to work out exactly how common this bacterium is in the oral cavity and what risk it poses.
'Immunosuppression, abnormal heart valves, dental surgeries or chronic diseases are common predisposing factors for blood infections by this group of bacteria. However, the specific risk factors for S. tigurinus remain to be determined'.