Friday, September 23, 2005


Well Dr Jim has done it again. He quite correctly named this week's bug as Burkholderia pseudomallei. This bacterium, despite its distinctive name, is somewhat off the radar screen of many European and US microbiologists. It is an inhabitant of South East Asia where it lives mostly in the soil. It causes a rather nasty disease called Melioidosis which is tricky to diagnose and treat. More recently it has been designated a "biothreat" pathogen as it can be used relativel easily as a an instrument of bioterrorism. Its cousin, Burkholderia mallei, which causes the disease "Glanders" has been used for this purpose, notably in World War 1. For my sins I'm working a project to develop an improved testing technique for Melioidosis and a vaccine will be the next thing on the list.

So another venti latte goes to Dr. Jim. He seems to have been cleaning up in this area recently so when he eventually comes to collect I'll have to insist, for the sake of his health, that this week's winnings are decaffeinated. Oh and I've got a couple more Spot the Bug candidates up my sleeve. The next one will be really difficult!

I must acknowledge the Sanger Institute for the micrographs which I, er, borrowed.

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