How Themistocles Zammit found Malta Fever (brucellosis) to be transmitted by the milk of goats

School of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9HD, UK.
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.02). 11/2005; 98(10):451-4. DOI: 10.1258/jrsm.98.10.451
Source: PubMed


Available from: Hv Wyatt, Jun 08, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Members of the genus Brucella are pathogenic bacteria exceedingly well adapted to their hosts. The bacterium is transmitted by direct contact within the same host species or accidentally to secondary hosts, such as humans. Human brucellosis is strongly linked to the management of domesticated animals and ingestion of their products. Since the domestication of ungulates and dogs in the Fertile Crescent and Asia in 12000 and 33000 ya, respectively, a steady supply of well adapted emergent Brucella pathogens causing zoonotic disease has been provided. Likewise, anthropogenic modification of wild life may have also impacted host susceptibility and Brucella selection. Domestication and human influence on wild life animals are not neutral phenomena. Consequently, Brucella organisms have followed their hosts' fate and have been selected under conditions that favor high transmission rate. The "arm race" between Brucella and their preferred hosts has been driven by genetic adaptation of the bacterium confronted with the evolving immune defenses of the host. Management conditions, such as clustering, selection, culling, and vaccination of Brucella preferred hosts have profound influences in the outcome of brucellosis and in the selection of Brucella organisms. Countries that have controlled brucellosis systematically used reliable smooth live vaccines, consistent immunization protocols, adequate diagnostic tests, broad vaccination coverage and sustained removal of the infected animals. To ignore and misuse tools and strategies already available for the control of brucellosis may promote the emergence of new Brucella variants. The unrestricted use of low-efficacy vaccines may promote a "false sense of security" and works towards selection of Brucella with higher virulence and transmission potential.
    Frontiers in Microbiology 05/2014; 5:213. DOI:10.3389/fmicb.2014.00213 · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dr Zammit's experiments showed that brucellosis was transmitted by the milk of goats that did not show signs of infection or ill health. The British forces in Malta banned the use of goats' milk and brucellosis was eliminated in those forces. This research was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society and earned him an Honorary DLitt from Oxford University and the Kingsley Medal of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The King knighted him. He was the great Maltese polymath but there is a mystery concerning his name.
    Journal of Medical Biography 08/2011; 19(3):128-31. DOI:10.1258/jmb.2010.010058
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    ABSTRACT: Taxonomy and nomenclature represent man-made systems designed to enhance understanding of the relationship between organisms by comparison of discrete sets of properties. Initial efforts at bacterial taxonomy were flawed as a result of the previous use of nonsystematic approaches including common names resulting in confusing and inaccurate nomenclature. A decision was made to start afresh with bacterial nomenclature and to avoid the hazards experienced in the taxonomic classification of higher organisms. This was achieved by developing new rules designed to simplify classification and avoid unnecessary and confusing changes. This article reviews the work of a number of scientists attempting to reconcile new molecular data describing the phylogenetic relationship between Brucella organisms and a broader family of organisms with widely variant phenotypes that include human virulence and host range against a backdrop of strict regulatory requirements that fail to recognize significant differences between organisms with similar nomenclature.
    Future Microbiology 06/2010; 5(6):859-66. DOI:10.2217/fmb.10.52 · 3.82 Impact Factor