Colonies of Mycobacterium (a genus of Actinobacteria)have a characteristically waxy consistency. Shown here: colonies of M. tuberculosis.
THE MOST DEADLY PATHOGEN OF ALL TIME
Posted April 12, 2014 by Kas Thomas at assertTrue( )
Few bacterial species have had as great an impact on humankind as the members of the [Mycobacteriaceae] family, which encompass the causative agents of (among other ailments) leprosy, tuberculosis, and Crohn’s Disease in humans, and Johne’s Disease in farm animals.
- Leprosy is known from antiquity and continues to strike 200,000 or more people each year worldwide.
- Tuberculosis, which affects (subclinically) one in three persons worldwide, continues to kill well over a million people a year and has caused a billion deaths in the last two centuries, more than all the wars and genocides of history combined.
- The association of M. avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) with Crohn’s Disease is still considered controversial by some, but if in fact Koch’s criteria have already been met, MAP adds millions more to the toll of human misery caused by Mycobacterial infection.
What are these bacteria? Where did they come from? How have they managed to be so successful in causing death and disease?