Normal flora

Microorganisms, microbes and "beasties"

Introduction to microbes (extract from "And You Thought You Were Safe")

Microbiology, on the other hand, is a branch of science dedicated to studying these microorganisms. And logically, medical microbiology is the study of microorganisms capable of causing human disease. On occasion we shall refer to microorganisms and microbes as "beasties". We do this, to help us keep in mind the ferocity of these little creatures.

Bio-warfare! Animals have been using Bacteria as weapons for hunting and survival, long before we conceived the thought. In a remote part of Indonesia live the Komodo Dragons. The Komodo Dragons grow to a length of nearly three meters and are speedy predators, running as fast as a dog. When the Komodo is young it feeds on small lizards, rodents and birds. As they grow, they graduate to feeding on larger animals, and even adults of their own species if they have the opportunity.

The Komodo Dragon has several virulent types of bacteria in its mouth which are lethal if they get into a victims blood. On many occasion, it is not the teeth of the Komodo's bite which kills its' victim, but rather the bacterial infection caused by the bite. The Komodo need only bite its prey once, follow it for a few days until the victim dies of septicaemia and then consume the deceased prey.

Komodo Dragons can bite each other, but are not affected. Through a unique relationship developed over time, Komodo Dragons have acquired a resistance to their own bacteria. Scientists culture many of the species of bacteria in the Komodo in hopes of creating new and effective antibiotics.

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