A mutation in scarlet fever

A mutation in scarlet fever

The pathogen that causes scarlet fever mutated and became much more dangerous

Topics: World, Research

Scarlet fever is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. This dangerous disease is characterized by rash, fever, acute tonsillitis, and general intoxication. According to statistics, in the first half of the last century, this infection was the leader among the causes of death of children in the West, reports "News Mail.RU".

In the second half of the 20th century, effective antibiotics appeared, which made it possible to almost completely destroy scarlet fever. But doctors state: since 2011, new outbreaks of infection have been recorded in the countries of Northeast Asia, the UK and Australia.

Thus, worldwide, the incidence of scarlet fever among children jumped 5 times, reaching 600,000. New research led by the University of Queensland showed that the cause of the increase in incidence is the mutation of the pathogen. The study examined the strain that caused an outbreak of scarlet fever in northeastern Asia in 2011.

It turned out that this strain did not resemble pathogens from the past. The new strain of Streptococcus pyogenes was distinguished by increased virulence, toxicity and aggressiveness. The pathogen "pumped" horizontal gene transfer. The bacterial genome included the genetic material of a phage, a virus that usually infects bacteria.

A dangerous bacterial clone was born, which new genes obtained from the phage help to secrete even more toxic proteins, easily and quickly penetrating cells. It is this modification of the pathogen that causes outbreaks of scarlet fever in the modern world.