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TravelPenguins are picking up bugs from tourists: Bird population ‘could be wiped out’ by Antarctica visitors who are passing on salmonella and antibiotic resistant bacteria

19:05  17 december  2018
19:05  17 december  2018 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Penguins are picking up bugs from TOURISTS : Bird population ‘ could be wiped out ’ by Antarctica visitors who are passing on salmonella and antibiotic resistant bacteria . Almost 40,000 tourists and researchers visit the Antarctica each year. Droppings were collected from more than

For example, while the Antarctica Treaty stipulates visitors carry their waste back home to safeguard the pristine environment, the regulation is rarely enforced. Now, a new study asserts that the visitors may be leaving behind harmful bacteria which could devastate the area’s native bird population .

Penguins are picking up bugs from tourists: Bird population ‘could be wiped out’ by Antarctica visitors who are passing on salmonella and antibiotic resistant bacteria© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A rise in the numbers in tourism may have led to penguins in the Antarctica picking up bugs from the visiting humans, according to new research. Scientists analysed droppings from the birds and found bacteria linked to humans, including antibiotic resistant strains (stock image) Bird populations in Antarctica could be be wiped out tourists who are passing on bacteria to penguins and other creatures.

Scientists analysed the droppings of more than six hundred and sixty six adult birds between 2008 and 2011 at four different locations across the Antarctic Ocean.

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Tourists and scientists are coming into increasing contact with Antarctic birds , which may be picking up pathogens from humans. You can also pass pneumonia to a chimpanzee or tuberculosis to a bird . The presence of certain strains of Salmonella and an antimicrobial- resistant type of another

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The study found strains of bacteria linked to humans, including antibiotic resistant microbes and DNA from a bacterium which causes food poisoning.

'Reverse zoonosis', which means human-to-animal disease transmission, has been seen on every continent except isolated Antarctica - until now.

Experts fear that these disease causing pathogens will have devastating consequences for all Antarctic species, some of which are endangered.

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Droppings were collected locations including Livingston, Marion and Gough Island, and the Falkland Islands, which are on many of the birds’ migration routes and have seen an increase in tourist numbers.

Researchers from the University of Barcelona detected a salmonella strain typically found in scavenging birds associated with urban areas.

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Campylobacter jejuni, a bacterium found in food and one of the most common cause of food poisoning in Europe and the United States, was detected in the droppings.

They also found a form of gastrointestinal bacterium called Campylobacter lari which was resistant to antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin.

These antibiotics are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine, which suggests that the penguins have been contaminated by people rather than the natural environment.

The penguins found to be infected with human pathogens included macaroni penguins, king penguins and the near-threatened gentoo penguins.

Other seabirds affected include southern giant petrels, kelp gulls and brown skuas.

Penguins are picking up bugs from tourists: Bird population ‘could be wiped out’ by Antarctica visitors who are passing on salmonella and antibiotic resistant bacteria© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Possible sources of the bacteria transferring to the penguins in the Antarctica include tourist cruises and scientific research outposts. Until now Antarctica had been the only continent where such transmission had not been documented (stock image)

The study's authors notes that birds and humans in the more isolated islands are coming into increasing contact, thanks to research centers there and growing numbers of tourists.

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'It's reasonable to think that the rapid increase of tourism has increased the risk of pathogen invasion,' said Professor Jacob González-Solís of the University of Barcelona.

'Sooner or later the transmission of one of these pathogens is going to destroy a local population of birds.'

Penguins are picking up bugs from tourists: Bird population ‘could be wiped out’ by Antarctica visitors who are passing on salmonella and antibiotic resistant bacteria© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The researchers found salmonella typically found in scavenging birds associated with urban areas and antibiotic resistant strains in the droppings leaving them vulnerable to diseases. Other seabirds affected include southern giant petrels, kelp gulls, pictured here, and brown skuas

Until now Antarctica had been the only continent where such transmission had not been documented.

'Stricter biosecurity measures are needed to limit human impacts in Antarctica,' the study said.

Professor González-Solís noted that it is possible that these birds picked up bacteria from domestic poultry in settlements such as the Falklands.

Other possible sources include tourist cruises and scientific research outposts.

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Tourists are advised to sanitise their footwear when they visit Antarctica to help combat the chance to spreading disease.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Penguins are picking up bugs from tourists: Bird population ‘could be wiped out’ by Antarctica visitors who are passing on salmonella and antibiotic resistant bacteria© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Campylobacter jejuni, a bacterium found in food and one of the most common cause of food poisoning in Europe and the United States, was found in the droppings. They also found a form of gastrointestinal bacterium which was resistant to antibiotics (stock image)

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This is interesting!