Friday, September 17, 2010
Oil Eating Bacteria Causing Massive Outbreaks In Gulf
To make things a little scarier, some of the oil-eating bacteria have been genetically modified, or otherwise bio-engineered, to better eat the oil - including Alcanivorax borkumensis and some of the Pseudomonas. Oil-eating bacteria produce bio-films. According to Nurse Schmidt, studies have found that bio-films are rapidly colonized (p. 97) by other Gram-negative bacteria - including those known to infect humans.
Scientists anticipated early on that the Gulf leak would cause populations of oil-eating bacteria to soar. Still, infections are not likely in healthy people. However, exposure to oil weakens a person's immune system function, as does the mental stress of dealing with disaster trauma. And then there are people who are more at risk than others to bacterial infections, especially when first challenged with oil and solvent exposure. This includes children, people with cystic fibrosis or asthma, and African Americans (who are prone to blood disorders), to name a few.
Is this the perfect storm - an exploding population of opportunistic Gram-negative bacteria (some natural, some not), millions of gallons of food (oil) for the bacteria, and a susceptible population of stressed-out people?
Perhaps. If the outbreak of skin rashes across the Gulf is any indication, the health care providers, media, and Congress ought to be taking a hard look at this question. Further, people ought to be connecting the dots to illnesses that surfaced in Exxon Valdez spill responders and to the illnesses occurring now in Michigan residents coping with the Enbridge oil pipeline spill.
In the Gulf, Nurse Schmidt believes, "This is like a major bacterial storm. It could be the reason we are seeing a variance of symptoms in different individuals. In some people, we see respiratory complications, while in others we see skin or GI symptoms. I think it is due to a multitude of colonized bacteria - which may have been triggered by BP's disaster. "
CALIFORNIA Completely Collapsing