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Strep pneumoniae survives weeks on surfaces, remains infectious

S. pneumoniae is one of the leading culprits behind ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis, and it often makes its home in the nasopharynx (way in the back of your sinuses), where it can get along as a commensal or switch over to the pathogenic way of life. Although other respiratory pathogens have been known to spread by contact with fomites (infected objects), until now, scientists had thought that S. pneumoniae was transmitted solely person-to-person via “respiratory droplets” from coughing or sneezing. A new paper in mBio this week tells us otherwise. In the study, the authors smeared S. pneumoniae on polystyrene surfaces and recovered it after it dried out. Not only did the bacterium survive at least four weeks of dryness, it preserved the ability to go on to infect some poor unsuspecting soul (in this case, a mouse). Since knockout mutants did so even without a polysaccharide capsule, dessication tolerance doesn’t depend on a capsule.
Click on the "source" link above to read more on mBio's blog, mBiosphere...

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