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Bacterial structure and functions
Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Strep)
Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Strep)
Clostridium botulinum (Botulism)
Clostridium difficile (Pseudomembranous colitis)
Clostridium tetani (Tetanus)
Bacillus cereus (Food poisoning)
Corynebacterium diphtheriae (Diphtheria)
Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax)
Salmonella typhi (typhoid fever)
Legionella pneumophila (Legionnaires disease and Pontiac fever)
Yersinia pestis (Plague)
Vibrio cholerae (Cholera)
Francisella tularensis (Tularemia)
Bordetella pertussis (Pertussis/Whooping cough)
Haemophilus ducreyi (Chancroid)
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Tuberculosis)
Mycobacterium avium complex (NORD)
Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
Borrelia species (Relapsing fever)
Treponema pallidum (Syphilis)
Rickettsia rickettsii (Rocky Mountain spotted fever) and other Rickettsia species
Coxiella burnetii (Q fever)
Ehrlichia and Anaplasma
Gardnerella vaginalis (Bacterial vaginosis)
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Sam Gillespie, BSc
With Bacteroides fragilis, ‘bacter-’ means rod, ‘-oides’ means shape and ‘fragilis’ means fragile.
So, Bacteroides fragilis is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium.
Although it's generally considered a rod-shaped, its can range from a sphere to a rod shape, so it’s considered a pleomorphic bacterium.
Bacteroides fragilis inhabits the human colon, and from all the Bacteroides species, it’s responsible for most human infections.
Now, a little bit more about this microbe. For starters, Bacteroides fragilis is Gram-negative, which means that it has a thin peptidoglycan cell wall that can't readily retain purple dye when Gram stained.
Additionally, it's a non-spore-forming and non-motile bacteria.
It’s also an obligate anaerobe, meaning that it can only live without oxygen.
Another fact is that it’s bile resistant and seems to like bile, which makes sense since it lives in the colon.
So, not only can it grow anaerobically in blood agar, but it can also readily grow in bile esculin agar, also known as Bacteroides Bile Esculin.
After 48 hours of incubation at 35°C Bacteroides fragilis forms dark colonies with brown-black halos due to the hydrolysis of esculin.
Finally, a disk test can be done, which identifies Bacteroides fragilis by its resistance to antibiotics like kanamycin, vancomycin, and colistin.
Ok, so normally, Bacteroides fragilis colonizes the human colon peacefully, without causing any trouble.
However, trauma or surgery may damage the intestinal wall, which allows Bacteroides fragilis to slip into the bloodstream.
From there, it can travel to virtually any organ in the body.
Alternatively, it can slip into the sterile peritoneal cavity accompanied by aerobic bacteria like E. coli, which are also part of the normal gut flora - so peritoneal infections are usually considered “polymicrobial” infection, to reflect that there’s more than one culprit.
Bacteroides fragilis is a Gram-negative, anaerobic rod-shaped bacterium, commonly found in the human gastrointestinal tract living as normal flora. However, it can cause illness when there is a disruption of the mucosal surface, either by trauma or surgery, causing the spread of Bacteroides fragilis to the bloodstream or surrounding tissues, causing infections such as sepsis, abscesses, and peritonitis. Symptoms vary depending on the site of the infection but can include fever, distended and tender abdomen, and abscesses.
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