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A novel bacterium, thought to be a common inhabitant of the oral cavity, has the potential to cause serious disease if it enters the bloodstream, according to a study in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. Its identification will allow scientists to work out how it causes disease and evaluate the risk that it poses. The bacterium was identified by researchers at the Institute of Medical Microbiology of the University of Zurich and has been named Streptococcus tigurinus after the region of Zurich where it was first recognised. S. tigurinus was isolated from blood of patients suffering from endocarditis, meningitis and spondylodiscitis (inflammation of the spine). It bears a close resemblance to other Streptococcus strains that colonise the mouth. Bleeding gums represent a possible route of entry for oral bacteria into the bloodstream.