Animals linked to human Chlamydia pneumoniae

February 22, 2010
Professor Peter Timms from Queensland University of Technology is part of an international team of scientists who have discovered a link between animals and a common form on human pneumonia. Credit: Photo by Erika Fish, Queensland University of Technology.

Animals have been found to have infected humans sometime in the past with the common respiratory disease Chlamydia pneumoniae, according to Queensland University of Technology infectious disease expert Professor Peter Timms.

Unlike the sexually-transmitted form of Chlamydia, Chlamydia pneumoniae is a major bacterial germ that causes widespread respiratory disease in humans.

The discovery was made by an international team of scientists from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who used koalas to prove the link between Chlamydia pneumoniae in animals and humans.

"We were able to sequence the genome (an organism's hereditary information) of Chlamydia pneumoniae obtained from an Australian koala and found evidence that human Chlamydia pneumoniae was originally derived from an animal source," Professor Timms said.

"Infections acquired from wildlife, known as zoonotic infections, are one of the most significant growing threats to global human health.

"We've already seen the impact of zoonotic infections with the H1N1 influenza pandemic which spread worldwide and originated from swines/pigs."

Professor Timms said the research revealed evidence that humans were originally infected zoonotically by animal isolates of Chlamydia pneumoniae which have adapted to humans primarily through the processes of gene decay.

He said Chlamydia pneumoniae was originally an animal pathogen that crossed the to humans and had adapted to the point where it could now be transmitted between humans.

"What we think now is that Chlamydia pneumoniae originated from amphibians such as frogs," he said.

Professor Timms said it was important to understand the origins of zoonotic infections to know the risk animal infections have to humans.

"It means we can look for solutions such as developing improved diagnostic tests, ensuring people take appropriate precautions to prevent the disease spreading and also develop vaccines," he said.

Assistant Professor Garry Myers from the Institute for Genome Sciences said the findings indicated that the high burden of pneumoniae in humans may represent a major public health corollary of zoonotic infections.

The findings from the study have been published in the international Journal of Bacteriology.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Urine test developed to test for tuberculosis

December 14, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has developed a urine test that can be used to detect tuberculosis (TB) in human patients. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

40 years after first Ebola outbreak, survivors show signs they can stave off new infection

December 14, 2017
Survivors of the first known Ebola outbreak, which occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, may be key to development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs to treat future outbreaks, according to a new study ...

Lactic acid bacteria can protect against Influenza A virus, study finds

December 13, 2017
Lactic acid bacteria, commonly used as probiotics to improve digestive health, can offer protection against different subtypes of influenza A virus, resulting in reduced weight loss after virus infection and lower amounts ...

Aging impairs innate immune response to flu

December 13, 2017
Aging impairs the immune system's response to the flu virus in multiple ways, weakening resistance in older adults, according to a Yale study. The research reveals why older people are at increased risk of illness and death ...

Lyme bacteria survive 28-day course of antibiotics months after infection

December 13, 2017
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced results of two papers published in the peer-reviewed journals PLOS ONE and American Journal of Pathology, that seem to support ...

Drug blocks Zika, other mosquito-borne viruses in cell cultures

December 12, 2017
If there was a Mafia crime family of the virus world, it might be flaviviruses.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.