We thought we knew everything about how bacteria infect humans

Artemisia bacteria is an emerging pathogen; a type of bacteria that does not affect humans, but does grow in animals, including humans. As the name implies, the gene that is responsible for this organism’s name – Artemisia – makes the bacteria grow in animal tissue.

We just didn’t realize it was due to muscle.

That is the conclusion of a new study in the journal Science, and the jump to the mouse equivalent is a biggie. The authors found that the pathogen lives in in varying concentrations of fat tissue on a mouse. As they note in the study, this is the first time that infection with the pathogen has been shown to involve fat tissue.

They also found that the levels of an antibiotic didn’t have a beneficial effect on the amount of the infection. Since the level of the infection depends on how much fat a mouse has, it is unclear how many bacteria the mice carry, let alone how many the mice are getting infected with.

What this study does paint is a picture of how fungi and pathogens colonize mammalian tissues. Which animal organs are most vulnerable to such an infection? Researchers are still working out that question. For now, the important thing is that this is the first time an organism responsible for infection with the Artemisia bacteria has been seen in mammalian tissues at high levels, and in large quantities.

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