Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chlamydia pneumoniae - no smoke without fire?

There are two species of Chlamydia that are of particular concern to humans. The sexually transmitted Chlamydia trachomatis I mentioned in class and the intriguing Chlamydia pneumoniae. You won't be surprised to hear that this is one of many organisms that can cause pneumonia but you may be surprised to hear that infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae has been linked to both coronary heart disease and obesity. The evidence for the former is stronger than the evidence for the latter but there is enough evidence in both cases to make it clear something is going on. We don't think of obesity as an infectious disease but there is mounting evidence that some obesity may be caused by infectious agents.

C. pneumoniae was thought to solely a human pathogen but more recent evidence suggests that C. pneumoniae is able to infect a wide range of species, including horses, frogs and koalas. Yet another reason to be wary of Koalas. They may look cuddly but they have very sharp claws and if you are holding one and they are startled they can rip your scalp open as they dig in. This actually happened to the wife of a friend who worked at San Francisco zoo. I think they stopped with the Koala show and tell after that.

So not only can koalas maul you but they can give you pneumonia, and possibly make you fat and lead you to have a heart attack. Move over pandas there's a new evil animal in town.

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