Battle of the Bugs Leaves Humans as Collateral Damage

Researchers have found a possible explanation for why some bacteria become extremely dangerous to humans, even at great risk to their own survival.

Deadly bacteria present a paradox -- why would it harm its host when this could result in the demise of the bacteria themselves?

In a new study, scientists have modeled in mice how a commonly-found bacterium known as Streptococcus pneumoniae interacts with other bacteria, showing that competition for space between rival bacteria can cause deadlier forms of bacteria to evolve.

According to Science Daily:

“... S. pneumoniae [was] forced to share space with Haemophilus influenzae, another common and ordinarily asymptomatic bacterium ... when a sufficient amount of H. influenzae was present, the more virulent, armored strain of S. pneumoniae began to out-compete its rivals: its thick sugar coating was allowing it to escape attack from the neutrophils, but this property also made it more deadly when it entered the blood stream.”

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