Deadly bacteria that antibiotics can’t kill discovered in UK as warnings issued
A deadly bacteria which can be fatal to humans has been found in a popular river beauty spot near the centre of Cambridge, sparking health warnings
A deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been found in the faeces of birds in the UK, sparking health warnings from scientists.
The poo was collected from a popular river beauty spot in Cambridge and contained forms of Pseudomonas, a bacteria which can be lethal to humans.
A ten mile stretch of the River Cam, in Cambridgeshire, was found to be home to the bacteria.
Tests revealed that all strains of the bacteria was resistant to at least one of the five antibiotics used on them, with three quarters being resistant to more than one antibiotic.
Walkers and wildlife lovers alike have been advised to wash their hands thoroughly after spending time in the area in the East of England.
The presence of the bacteria reinforces the danger of zoonotic diseases, those passed from animals to humans, and the threat they pose to humans.
Zoonotic diseases, like Covid-19, account for more than 60 per cent of human infections every year.
Joana GC Rodrigues, associate lecturer in Life Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “The River Cam runs through the centre of Cambridge and is an extremely popular spot for leisure activities such as walking, picnicking, and boating.
“Therefore, the results from our study highlight the importance of basic personal hygiene, such as washing our hands after being outdoors, due to the risk of cross-contamination.
“Surveillance is a key aspect of understanding antibiotic resistance but is often forgotten.
“Having up-to-date information about the presence of different bacteria and their resistance to antibiotics allows us to monitor our ecosystem health and act swiftly.
“We know that antibiotic resistance is a global issue that will continue to worsen if no action is taken.”
The issue of antibiotic resistance has been exacerbated during the pandemic by the overuse of antibiotics.
The study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, showed the presence of the Pseudomonas bacteria in over a fifth of samples collected (21%).
Of the 115 samples of poo collected, 24 contained the Pseudomonas bacteria.
Pseudomonas are a large group of bacteria which can be naturally present in the environment, and some of which are associated with animal and human disease.
It can cause illnesses ranging from easy-to-treat ear infections to fatal lung infections and is known to typically effect those with a weaker immune system.
In the UK, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the second most common hospital infection and approximately a quarter of people die from the illness.
The researchers then tested the effectiveness of five different types of antibiotics – cefepime, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, levofloxacin, and meropenem – on each of the Pseudomonas bacteria isolated from the samples.
All Pseudomonas bacteria samples were found to be resistant to at least one of the antibiotics used on them, and three quarters were resistant to more than one drug.
According to the O’Neill report, commissioned by the UK government and the Wellcome Trust, antibiotic resistance is a major global crisis that is causing 700,000 deaths annually.
Unless tackled, this could increase to 10 million people dying a year by 2050.