Are seagulls spreading superbugs?

Scientists fear migratory birds may be spreading hard-to-treat infections after discovering seagulls can carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria…

Scientists fear migratory birds may be spreading hard-to-treat infections after discovering seagulls can carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Portuguese researchers analysed 57 samples of droppings from the yellow-legged Caspian Gull Larus Cachinnans. They found that one in 10 harboured bacteria resistant to a common antibiotic called vancomycin.

The white and grey gulls can often be seen flocking on rubbish tips, and are common in many southern parts of the UK, and the birds probably pick up the infection from eating scraps in human garbage.

Lead scientist Gilberto Igrejas, of the University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, explained: ‘Migrating birds that fly and travel long distances can act as transporters, or as reservoirs, of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.’

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are generally harmless to healthy people but can cause serious infections in the weak and vulnerable. The main concern is that they could pass on their resistance to bacteria that can evade other antibiotics, ultimately leading to infections that would be incredibly difficult to treat.

The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it would study the findings ‘with interest’.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE HEALTH NEWS

Reading now

Popular