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Friday, April 12, 2024

Science Scene

Sugar in common foods linked to E. coli

A type of sugar common in food has been found to create potential for E. coli to invade human bodies.

A study published on Oct. 29 showed that food such as red meat and dairy products contain sugar molecules that are not naturally produced in humans. Toxins from E. coli may bind to the sugars and trigger a pathway to causing diseases.

The sugar, called Neu5Gc, is absorbed and incorporated into intestinal and kidney tissues. Although it is not known how the sugar gets broken down over time, scientists believe it could stick around in the human body. People are at greater risk of infection if they happen to consume a harmful strain of E. coli in the future.

According to scientists, the E. coli toxin was about seven times more likely to bind with the presence of sugar. It is estimated that an average quarter-pound beef burger contains 3 milligrams of the sugar and the average American consumes between 10 and 20 milligrams per day.

Microbiologists do not know if avoiding red meat or dairy products will reduce chances of being harmed by E. coli. The most common way of becoming infected with E. coli is by consuming poorly cooked meat, contaminated water or unpasteurized milk. (sciencenews.org)


Researchers believe a fungus is causing bats to die

In recent winters, bats are dying off due to a condition known as white-nose syndrome. They are most affected in upstate New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. Researchers think a fungus is linked to the condition.

The fungus has been found to grow in the cold and form dots on the bat’s skin as well as create white strands. It penetrates through the skin, hair follicles and sweat glands and causes the bats to starve during hibernation.

The fungus could have caused bat starvation by causing them to wake up too often, according to researchers at the United States Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin. Generally bats hibernate by going through two weeks of deep torpor that’s interrupted by short wakeful periods. The frequent interruptions cause the bats to use up stored fat and ultimately deplete their energy reserves.

More research needs to be conducted to determine how to combat the fungus – it is said that spraying fungicide to rid caves of all fungal organisms could do more harm than good. (nytimes.com)




THUY TRAN compiled Science Scene and can be reached at features@californiaaggie.com.


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