Seagulls Carrying Drug Resistant Infection


Nature can get as regressive as it can progress. It has its own way of holding back, going back and wreaking havoc. As we continue to reel from our self-inflicted damage to the environment, awakening the planet to a gory future, we also battle little bits of threats imposed every day, may/ may not be created by us. Natural calamities and the subsequent after effects is one. Birds carrying life threatening antimicrobial resistant bacteria is another. This time the chosen vehicle is the joyous Seagull, that according to tested sample may be flying cheerfully carrying drug-resistant superbugs in form of E. coli bacteria, says research.

Seagulls are being tested in Australia and more than a fifth have been found to be infected with this infection that could be hazardous to human, causing anything from Urinary Tract Infection to in severe cases Sepsis.

The findings, by a team from Murdoch University in collaboration with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the University of Adelaide and the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark, have been published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

The infection is resistant to the last-resort drug colistin. Drug resistant super bugs have been rampaging hospitals across the world, in a recent report, attacking the immune system. But here the risk is relatively less, even if the gull gets in contact with humans. Simply washing hands will prevent this from further damage.

The birds have as per the research picked the infection from scavenging through waste and sewers, especially on human faeces. Murdoch University microbiologist Sam Abraham collected the droppings of 562 seagulls from across Australia and said it was the first study to establish the birds carried drug-resistant E. coli that could harm humans.

“Seagulls act as ecological sponges [bio-accumulators] and we have earmarked them as a potential reservoir for agents that may cause human disease,” he said.

Though this does not pose a direct threat to humans it may pass on to food producing animals. Through water bodies that connect to farmlands, which are the stomping grounds for the gulls. Livestock could be seriously affected by this.

The researchers are presently working on spots where the gull picked up the infection from. It has also expanded its scope of study to other birds.