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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS - 24/11/08

Rat plague may bring heart disease

Monday November 24th, 2008

Rats may be spreading a new, hidden plague around the world, researchers warned today.

A family of bugs which cause heart disease, eye disease and infection of the spleen is spreading in the brown rat population, according to a new study.

Like the original bubonic plague, the bacteria, known as Bartonellae, live on the fleas that live on rats.

The latest study names a new species of Bartonella, known as rochalimae, which caused spleen disease in a patient from South America.

Researcher Professor Chao-Chin Chang, from the National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan, said a strain of Bartonella closely related to the new species, had been found on rats in his country.

Professor Chang said: "Because of the small sample size used in this study, we cannot say for sure that the common brown rat is spreading B. rochalimae.

"However, several different Bartonella bacteria are surely transmitted by rodents. These results raise concerns about the existence of other reservoirs and vectors for this emerging infection.

"This certainly warrants further investigation."

Isolation of Bartonella species from rodents in Taiwan including a strain closely related to Bartonella rochalimae from Rattus norvegicus. Journal of Medical Microbiology December 2008

Tags: Asia | Flu & Viruses | Heart Health | World Health

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