Actinomyces Israelii

The following is a guest posting by Emily et al. in Amman, Jordan… enjoy!

few weeks ago, a couple of truly dorky first-year medical student
friends of mine took the time to look up the subspecies of a bacteria
called Actinomyces, and they stumbled upon what had to be either a
truly fortunate coincidence, or a bacteria with a sense of humor, or

You see, when biologists discover some new species or
protein, the one who describes it first gets to name it. Usually they
either name it after themselves, how it behaves, or what it looks like.
Sometimes they have a sense of humor about it: there is a protein
called Sonic Hedge Hog. People end up writing entire dissertations on
Sonic Hedge Hog. One dude who developed a DNA separation process was
named Southern, and the next person who developed the corresponding
process for RNA called it Northern to be cute, etc.

When the
diligent medical students curiously researched the types of Actinomyces
that have been isolated, they were surprised to discover in the
literature a species called Actinomyces israelii. What’s more, every
source to be found described the bacteria as being highly invasive
without respecting borders (here,
for example)! We’re talking borders in a body, usually human or bovine,
so the borders they refer to are the natural divisions between tissue
layers. Further research revealed that Actinomyces israelii not only
doesn’t respect borders, it also forms destructive colonies throughout
tissues, establishing itself in a solid matrix so that it cannot be
dismantled. Uncanny?

We could have sworn collectively that the
bacteria was discovered and named by either a Palestinian or Israeli
biologist with a sense of humor. Usually it’s the biologists that endow
their discoveries with unfortunate namesakes. However, Actinomycosis,
the disease caused by the infection of these bacteria, was first
described by a dude (I’m assuming it’s a dude, since I can’t find his
or her first name) named J. Israel in 1878, 70 years before the
establishment of the modern state of Israel. It appears that the
bacteria themselves evolved the funny bone.

Further information taken from UpToDate ,
the respected medical literature review maintained by physicians, has
led the future doctors to their diagnosis, which reads as follows:

We now seek to promote good oral hygiene as a first step to ending the invasion,
occupation, and destruction of Palestinian land and life across fascial
planes. We remind you that flossing (with old school waxy floss or a water
pick) can prevent the dense colonization of Actinomyces israelii and subclinical
periodontal infection- now known to be an important precipitating event for more
extensive disease. Though A. israelii can mimic very aggressive cancers in
its militancy, er, malignancy, we assure that it is definitely a bacterium-
therefore it can still be contained by good old-fashioned penicillin G and other
common bread molds.


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One Response to Actinomyces Israelii

  1. fasdfansdjfasldf says:

    lolmao, it means the bacteria was discovered by a jewish scientist or a mesihi who liked his bible. you shouldn’t be so racist against jews. many filastinis are from jewish heritage, that is why they are writers and doctors themselves when they have freedom, unlike other arabs.

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