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Scientists Found Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria In Space

Published: November 27, 2018
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The International Space Station. Image: NASA

 

Drug-resistant bacteria—germs that have adapted immunities to antibiotic treatments—have found their way to the International Space Station, according to a new study.

Led by Nitin Singh, a microbiologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the study, published in BMC Microbiology, examined five strains of Enterobacter bacteria from samples collected in 2015 from the toilets and exercise equipment onboard the ISS.

Enterobacter is a common and mostly harmless bacterial family, but drug-resistant strains of the organism have been flagged in hospitals. A 2015 outbreak in a Tanzanian neonatal unit, for instance, caused blood infections in newborn babies.

Singh and his colleagues wanted to figure out the virulence of the Enterobacter strains on the ISS compared to antimicrobial-resistant pathogens on Earth. To do this, the team mapped the genomes of the space strains and compared them to the roughly 1,300 known Enterobacter genomes.

Their analysis revealed that the five strains were most genetically similar to Enterobacter bugandensis, the same drug-resistant species responsible for the Tanzania outbreak.

The finding corroborates Nature paper from January that suggested E. bugandensis might be present on the space station. Singh’s team expanded beyond that research by evaluating the genetic virulence of the strains and their potential to infect the astronauts.

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Well, this is a downer: Prozac, a drug taken by millions of folks every day to help them cope with chronic depression and anxiety, has been shown to allow for antibiotic resistance in dangerous strains of bacteria, under laboratory conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control is saying that “nightmare bacteria” are attempting to spread themselves across the United States. These new bacteria allegedly have the power to resist antibiotics and the media is hyping up the fear rhetoric.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been discovered for the first time in the U.S., which health officials say could mean the end of the antibiotic era. The new strain was confirmed by Department of Defense researchers in an alarming study published Thursday. The researchers called it “the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria."

Tests at two wastewater treatment plants in northern China revealed antibiotic-resistant bacteria —“superbugs” carrying New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1), a multidrug-resistant gene first identified in India in 2010 — were not only escaping purification but also breeding and spreading their dangerous cargo.

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