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Costa Rican scientists find new type of bacteria

A group of microbiologists from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) has discovered a new type of bacteria belonging to the Rickettsiae group, considered one of the most harmful to humans.

Researchers have reported the new species to the international community with the scientific name “Candidatus Rickettsia nicoyana.” The name refers to its discovery on a tick found on a bat in the Nicoya Peninsula, in the province of Guanacaste.

Adriana Troyo, a researcher with the UCR’s Center for Research on Tropical Diseases, said in a public statement that Rickettsia is a group of bacteria potentially pathogenic — deadly — to humans.

“We still don’t know whether the Candidatus Rickettsia nicoyana can make people sick, but identifying it is the first step in the process of studying it,” she said.

The UCR research center said there are currently 32 species of Rickettsiae registered in the world. Of these, 22 are dangerous for people and can cause illness and some can even be deathly. Microbiologists are now conducting tests on the newly found species at different temperatures.

One of the tests’s goals is evaluating its behavior at 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 °F), the average human body temperature, to determine whether it can be deadly.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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