The CDC report said he had hemochromatosis, a condition in which too much iron is absorbed into body tissues from foods in the gastrointestinal tract. Because Y. pestis bacteria are naturally iron-deficient, the extra iron in the man may have fed the bacteria and caused them to become virulent, the report said.
From the link you provided. This makes it look as though the CDC reported that hemochromatosis makes one more
susceptible to plague because one's body has an excess of iron. In reality, hemochromatosis makes one less
susceptible because the iron is sequestered in such a way that macrophages
become deficient in iron. It is the iron in macrophages
that Y. pestis
uses to multiply. So this researcher probably survived longer and without a traditional presentation of the disease because of his hemochromatosis. On the other hand, if the first doctor he visited had seen grossly swollen lymph nodes, perhaps the researcher could have survived with adequate treatment.
I'm betting some newspaper writer saw "hemochromatosis" and "excess iron" and somehow found that iron helps bacterial proliferation and made the wrong leap in this case.
I remember reading many years ago that when you get an infection your body, along with producing a fever, starts sequestering iron in a form that unusable by the invading pathogen in order to starve it of a prime nutrient.
I've picked up DNA samples in the building he worked in many times, though I didn't know him.
posted on 09/04/2011 6:28:24 AM PDT
Small world too.
posted on 09/04/2011 6:55:09 AM PDT
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