Query: NC_012579:1 Bacillus anthracis str. CDC 684 plasmid pX01, complete sequence Lineage: Bacillus anthracis; Bacillus; Bacillaceae; Bacillales; Firmicutes; Bacteria General Information: This organism was the first to be shown to cause disease by Dr. Robert Koch, leading to the formulation of Koch's postulates, which were verified by Dr. Louis Pasteur (the organism, isolated from sick animals, was grown in the laboratory and then used to infect healthy animals and make them sick). This organism was also the first for which an attenuated strain was developed as a vaccine. Herbivorous animals become infected with the organism when they ingest spores from the soil whereas humans become infected when they come into contact with a contaminated animal. Anthrax is not transmitted due to person-to-person contact. The three forms of the disease reflect the sites of infection which include cutaneous (skin), pulmonary (lung), and intestinal. Pulmonary and intestinal infections are often fatal if left untreated. Spores are taken up by macrophages and become internalized into phagolysozomes (membranous compartment) whereupon germination initiates. Bacteria are released into the bloodstream once the infected macrophage lyses whereupon they rapidly multiply, spreading throughout the circulatory and lymphatic systems, a process that results in septic shock, respiratory distress and organ failure. The spores of this pathogen have been used as a terror weapon.
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General Information: Clostridium botulinum A3 str. Loch Maree was isolated from duck liver paste during a botulism outbreak at a hotel in the Scottish highlands in 1922. This was the first and worst outbreak of botulism in the United Kingdom (UK). This organism produces one of the most potent and deadly neurotoxins known, a botulinum toxin that prevents the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, thereby inhibiting muscle contraction and causing paralysis. In most cases the diseased person dies of asphyxiation as a result of paralysis of chest muscles involved in breathing. The spores are heat-resistant and can survive in inadequately heated, prepared, or processed foods. Spores germinate under favorable conditions (anaerobiosis and substrate-rich environment) and bacteria start propagating very rapidly, producing the toxin.Botulinum toxin, and C. botulinum cells, has been found in a wide variety of foods, including canned ones. Almost any food that has a high pH (above 4.6) can support growth of the bacterium. Honey is the most common vehicle for infection in infants. Food poisoning through C. botulinum is the most frequent type of infection caused by this bacterium. The wound botulism that occurs when C. botulinum infects an individual via an open wound is much rarer and is very similar to tetanus disease. There are several types of botulinum toxin known (type A through type F), all of them being neurotoxic polypeptides. The most common and widely distributed are strains and serovars of C. botulinum that produce type A toxin.