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Tufted Bacteria Cause Infection In Premature Babies

Bacteria that normally reside on the skin of healthy people can cause serious infections in premature babies. A group of researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have now found an explanation for why a certain kind of staphylococcus can attach itself to the skin and quickly develop dynamic ecosystems: the bacteria are like tufted, self-adhesive hairballs.

Staphylococcus establishes itself on the child's skin and mucous membranes directly after birth. In healthy adults and children, these bacteria normally live in harmony with the host organism. However, in sick adults or premature babies, they can cause blood poisoning.

The scientists believe that the hair-like protrusions on the surface of the bacteria that have now been identified serve to adhere the bacteria to the host's cells, whereupon they cause infection. They also found that the antimicrobial substance LL37, which is found on the skin (amongst other places) can inhibit the growth of the bacteria, and probably plays an important part in keeping the bacteria flora stable and inhibiting their uncontrolled proliferation.
 
 

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