Friday, April 1, 2011

Mariners Disease?

Recently researchers at HIMB sent in a DNA signature from bacterial samples taken from local harbors and beaches to a national data bank. They got an odd correlation back. It was the same DNA signature as that of a bacteria that had been recently isolated from human tissue.

The first thought was that it was a new marine pathogen (disease causing organism). But further work indicated that although the bacteria actually did best in a human host impaired by a particular pre-existing syndrome, it caused no real damage (although it could amplify symptoms). The bacterium mainly seemed to just take advantage of the situation by removing whatever resources it needed, sort of lifting the human's wallet while they were impaired so to speak. Later, if the human entered the ocean, the bacteria was shed there into a much less preferred habitat, where it would wait (somewhat sulkily) for another host.

The bacteria has been named Navigatore vini spiritus. The humans afflicted tended to be suffering from a fairly common and temporary dissociative disorder, Buccaneer's Syndrome, causing them to exhibit odd behaviors such as participating in bad karaoke, street dancing or thinking that they were Captain Hook. Many of us have seen this painful (to watch) disorder take over friends and colleagues.

Incidence in Hawaii was highest near boat docks and harbors, although several popular beaches had high populations as well. Population spikes typically recurred on a 6 - 7 day cycle centering on weekends, although some areas had a constant low level of infection.

Researchers noted that although reasonable life choices seemed to be the best prevention of contact with either the bacterium or the impairment, they felt more research may be indicated related to this fascinating microbe. Several of the team indicated a willingness to personally work on any issues related to a similar bacterium found in more terrestrial habitats, Delectoria chocolatorium even if other odd impairments ensued.



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