Fried Rice Syndrome

In the tropics, food deteriorates fast. Even after a couple of hours meat can turn rancid and that's the sole reason consumers in that parts of the world always like their food spicy: pepper and chili peppers both act as an antibacterial and both mask the taste of decay.
Fried rice is also not immune to bacteria. The bacterium Bacillus cereus, a close relative of Bacillus anthracis, which causes anthrax, likes to invade fried rice. The bacteria are classically contracted from fried rice dishes that have been sitting at room temperature for hours.

Bacillus cereus is responsible for a growing number of foodborne illnesses, causing severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea[1].

But now there's a more menacing problem: in the tropical rainforests of Ivory Coast, Bacillus cereus has acquired two plasmids, pXO1 and pXO2, possibly from Bacillus anthracis, encoding most of the genes that make anthrax such a formidable killer[2].

That version of Bacillus cereus is called Bacillus cereus biovar anthracis. If that variant manages to escape the African rainforests, we're in for some serious and deadly problems.

[1] Katranta et al: Epidemiology and pathogenesis of Bacillus cereus infections in Microbes and Infection – 2000
[2] Leendertz et al: A New Bacillus anthracis Found in Wild Chimpanzees and a Gorilla from West and Central Africa in PloS Pathogens – 2006

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