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Scarlet fever is making a comeback after a virus-caused mutation alters pathogen

Scarlet fever is making a comeback after a virus-caused mutation alters pathogen

The viral infections created new bacterial strains that generate “superantigens”

public domain https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meyers_b8_s0235a.jpg

Scarlet fever was once a leading cause of death for children across the western world, but it was nearly eradicated thanks to antibiotics. Now recent outbreaks in the United Kingdom and North East Asia are raising alarms with public health officials.

New research by scientists at the University of Queensland (UQ), in collaboration with scientists around the world, has suggested the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria is growing stronger after being infected by viruses.

UQ Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre director Mark Walker co-authored a paper on the topic that was recently published in the journal, Nature Communications.

Professor Walker said they started looking into Streptococcus pyogenes after an outbreak in Asia in 2011 and then in the UK in 2014.

Between 2014 and 2018, the UK National Health Service reported a 68 per cent increase in the number of lab reports of pyogenic streptococci.

The viral infections created new strains that generate “superantigens” that appears to give the bacteria a way to gain access to the insides of the host’s cells that has never seen before among bacteria.

Co-author Professor Mark Walker and the team found a variety of Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria that had acquired “superantigen” toxins, forming new clones.

“The toxins would have been transferred into the bacterium when it was infected by viruses that carried the toxin genes,” Professor Walker said.

“We’ve shown that these acquired toxins allow Streptococcus pyogenes to better colonise its host, which likely allows it to out-compete other strains.

“These supercharged bacterial clones have been causing our modern scarlet fever outbreaks.

“The research team then removed the toxin genes from the clones causing scarlet fever, and these modified ‘knock-out’ clones were found to be less able to colonise in an animal model of infection.”

If there is good news to be had, it is that the robust response to the coronavirus has halted the outbreaks for the time being. However, the disease is likely to spread again once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“But when social distancing eventually is relaxed, scarlet fever is likely to come back,” says Walker.

“Just like COVID-19, ultimately a vaccine will be critical for eradicating scarlet fever – one of history’s most pervasive and deadly childhood diseases.”

[Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain]

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“But when social distancing eventually is relaxed, scarlet fever is likely to come back,” says Walker. Just like COVID-19, ultimately a vaccine will be critical for eradicating scarlet fever – one of history’s most pervasive and deadly childhood diseases.”

Oh, joy! Just what they need…another excuse to keep the lockdowns going.

“If it saves just one child’s life…”

Good thing a number of us older adults had most if not all of these “childhood diseases” when we were children.

China unleashing its germ warfare

    JusticeDelivered in reply to gonzotx. | October 11, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    There is no doubt in my mid that we need to pay, with compounded interest, China back.

    It would be eat if our space force started experimenting with dropping big rocks on China’s military and CCP leaders. Iran and NK might benefit from similar treatment.

      Haverwilde in reply to JusticeDelivered. | October 11, 2020 at 4:52 pm

      oops, I hit the reply button and it also down marked the comment. Sorry.
      Anyway, we have an easy way to make them pay. Just go to court and default on the trillions in U.S. debt that they hold. It’s a win-win. Lots of U.S. disappears, and China gets what they deserve.

If one looks at the raw numbers, which I, as a scientist, always do, one sees that the current annual UK reported public health infection rate is 33 per 100,000, with hospitalizations just under 1 per 100,000. That 68% increase was from 20/100K to 33/100K. Pardon me if I hold off getting too excited about this at the moment.

    alaskabob in reply to MajorWood. | October 11, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    When the rate was 20/100k what was the hospitalization rate? Remember the cartoons where the thief easily distracts the guard dog by repeatedly tossing a stick? Another day… another stick.

Should be easier to create a vaccine against a Strep bacterium. Strep pneumoniae (Strep throat strains) only haven’t been done due to lack of priority (rarely life threatening).

    puhiawa in reply to healthguyfsu. | October 11, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    I do not know if it is lack of interest or lack of trying. Strep has proven itself fairly easy, until now at least, to tame via vaccine. Let us hope this latest version does not develop Staph like tendencies which have made Staph resistant to every effort to vaccinate against to date.

      healthguyfsu in reply to puhiawa. | October 11, 2020 at 3:13 pm

      That would require “macroevolution on a micro scale” if that makes sense…perhaps this explanation will.

      Staphylococcus strains are resistant to treatments and immune responses (including vaccinated ones) because the bacteria form clusters of cells protecting the central population by sacrificing the peripheral ones…think like a cluster of grapes. Thus, the central bacteria can develop resistance and multiply. “Cluster of circles” is the namesake of staphylococcus (staph means cluster and coccus means circular, as in the shape of the individual cell).

      Streptococcus means “chain of circles” because the bacteria form chains of circles instead of clusters. They do not have the same properties due to this arrangement.

It’s the End of the World of the Week!

One of the biggest benefits of the China Covid virus is the increased transparency of agenda driven medical hacks.

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