Pathology and laboratory medicine

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Infection / bloodletting / phlebotomy


"Staph thrives on iron compounds, scavenging it from the animals it infects. It
obtains most of the iron it needs to grow during infection …. Specifically,
it prefers a kind of iron found in heme ….." "If no heme is available, the
bacterium’s chances of thriving may fail."

Extreme Technique

What does all this have to do with bloodletting?

Skaar’s team didn’t address bloodletting.

But the idea boils down to this: The less blood that’s available, the harder it
is for the bacterium to scrounge up enough heme to thrive.

"Bloodletting in the preantibiotic era may have been an effective mechanism for
starving bacterial pathogens of iron and slowing bacterial growth," writes

These days, we have different ways to handle infections.

Though bloodletting is out of vogue — and none of the researchers is
suggesting its revival — the reasons why it sometimes worked may be clearer.

They say that targeting or inhibiting the bacteria’s ability to obtain iron is
a promising area of research that may create novel options for therapy against


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