Scientists have identified a common mouth bug that can trigger serious illnesses if it gets into the bloodstream.
Identified by University of Zurich researchers, the oral bug has been named Streptococcus Tigurinus after the region of Zurich where it was first recognised.
The similarity of S. Tigurinus to other related bugs has meant that it has existed without being identified, which is clinically important, explained Andrea Zbinden from the Zurich Institute of Medical Microbiology, who led the study.
"Accurate identification of this bacterium is essential to be able to track its spread. This will allow infected patients to be treated quickly and with the right drug," added Zbinden, the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology reports.
Streptococcus Tigurinus was isolated from blood of patients suffering from endocarditis (inflammation of the inside lining of the heart chambers and its valves), meningitis (bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord) and spondylodiscitis (inflammation of the spine), according to a Zurich statement.
It bears a close resemblance to other Streptococcus strains that colonise the mouth. Bleeding gums represent a possible route of entry for oral bacteria into the bloodstream.
"This bacterium seems to have a natural potential to cause severe disease and so it is important that clinicians and microbiologists are aware of it," Zbinden said.