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Medicine Science

Seagulls Spreading Resistant Bacteria On Beaches 94

bs0d3 writes "Dr. Patrice Nordmann has disclosed the results of a small study that looked for resistant bacteria in seagull poop landing on Miami Beach in Florida. During April 2010, they collected 52 stool samples and found within them 83 isolates of gut bacteria such as E. coli. Wired's Maryn McKenna writes, 'Seven of the E. coli carried genes that direct production of CTX-M enzymes, a troublesome resistance factor that protects bacteria from the very broad category of drugs called extended-spectrum beta-lactams and that has recently spread worldwide. In addition, 14 of the E. coli were also carrying the gene for the CMY-2 enzyme, which confers the same ESBL resistance on Salmonella. Nine of the isolates were multi-drug resistant.' This has led some scientists to the conclusion that this is one avenue these bacterias are taking in human infections worldwide. The resistance factors identified in the seagull feces match ones that cause highly resistant infections in humans, and correlate with data collected on beaches in Portugal, Sweden, and France."
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Seagulls Spreading Resistant Bacteria On Beaches

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  • don't eat seagull poo? check
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Unfortunately, not quite as simple as that. Seagulls like to crap on your hair, if no one points it out to you then there's a chance you could get infected while running your fingers through your hair and then licking them.
      • I've never had the desire to lick my hands after running them through my hair....nor have I ever been sh1t on by a bird. On the other hand my car has taken a pounding from time to time. Of course, I don't lick my hands after I rub them all over my car either. Hmmmm, come to think of it, I never have rubbed my hands all over my car.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Good God, man, break out of your shell! Live! Live! Caress your car! Fondle your hair! Lick your fingers!

        • Kids put their fingers in their eyes and mouth all the time. Sometimes on accident sometimes not.

          Just sayin...

          Perhaps it's not necessary to treat animals with antibiotics all the fucking time, hmm?

          • I know, it was meant to be funny, but I guess it didn't come across that way. Kids, yes, but I never saw any adults rub their hands through their hair and go on to licking their hands. As an adult(and when I was a kid) I frequently wash my hands. Not obsessive, but after I use the restroom and definitely before I sit down to eat something, even if it is not finger food. When my son is with me I make sure he washes his hands too. I guess the dirty ones will die...oh well. Someone always said genocide w
            • :) I missed the humor. My fault, not yours. Was recently listening to a podcast about the state of genetically modified & antibiotic infused foods and I guess it took a bit out of my funny bone on the subject. Companies doing irresponsible things get my goat a bit. Sorry! :(

              It is kinda funny they tested seagull poo, I never would have thought to do that. My daughters and I love feeding them by where we live - abandoned grocery store parking lot - but we stay in the car to prevent getting shat on.

      • What we need to do is find a natural predator for the pigeons, that is besides kids with alka-seltser tablets, they don't seem to be doing their job too well at that; Which is a good thing as animal cruelty is a sort of predicate to serial killers. May I suggest that we introduce the Bolivian tree lizard to our ecosystem, as it likes to eat the common pigeon, or at that's what I learned from the Principal of Springfield Elementary.
        • by Cyberax ( 705495 )

          And what should we use then to get rid of Bolivian tree lizards?

          • by rednip ( 186217 )
            I'd continue with the obvious Simpson's meme, but after writing it, I'm finding that I'm interesting in finding out which natural predator would work best for many consider pests. From what I hear, hawks are pretty good with pigeons. I'd guess installing a few nests in some of the high rises (non- beach facing, and without a nearby terrace), maybe we could find a natural balance. Or will the hawks start coming after your kid's hot dog for the easy meal?
            • by Cyberax ( 705495 )

              I have a friend who is into hawking (hawk hunting). He says that hawks are notoriously picky, it's not likely that they'll be able to live in urban settings.

              He says that the best bet are daytime-adapted owls.

      • This reminds me of story a friend of mine once shared with me. When he was younger, he owned a pet flying squirrel. One day, he was holding it in one hand while he reached for a Taco Bell soft taco with the other. He was busy talking with his sister that moment and proceeded to lick the brown gravy running down his arm. He said it tasted bitter and noticed the shock and horrifying look on her face. Apparently he licked the wrong arm, and that wasn't the gravy he was looking for.

  • Dang! (Score:5, Funny)

    by hoytak ( 1148181 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @07:08PM (#37436404) Homepage

    I guess I should stop hunting these free-range seagulls for food. I've heard the farm-raised variety is tastier anyway, but I haven't yet found a cheap supplier.

    Disclaimer: I work for a major fast food chain...

    • I hear squab is cheap...
    • you should go snipe hunting, they are tasty little birds
      • by hoytak ( 1148181 )

        you should go snipe hunting, they are tasty little birds

        Be careful with this advice, people. I tried that, and the nasty little buggers chewed right through my tennis shoes and gave me some nasty scars before I could whack them to death. Those things are evil, depraved spawns of the devil himself. You only hunt them if you're strong, fast, and scared of nothing. And I mean nothing.

        But heck, if it weren't for snipes, Iowa would be truly boring. Everyone there has a good story about them, as if it's a rite of passage. Me? I'll stick to my seagulls, thank yo

    • But they still make good target practice. I'd like to see the bacteria resistant to birdshot.

      Or, come to think of it, I *wouldn't* like to see the bacteria resistant to birdshot... (shudder)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    flying rats. they all should be destroyed

  • Landfills (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 18, 2011 @07:16PM (#37436450)

    Open-air landfills, leftovers, old prescriptions, and seagulls. Yep.

    With the exception of earthquakes and meteor strikes, all problems can be traced to human overpopulation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      With the exception of earthquakes and meteor strikes, all problems can be traced to human overpopulation.

      The bigger the population, the greater chance that earthquake or meteor will strike someone.

    • Just as likely that they picked it up from some raw meat in a landfill or somebody's garbage pile. Think about it... Raw meat from somebody's BBQ harboring the antibiotic-resistant bacteria gets eaten by seagulls. The bacteria hitch a ride in seagulls and end up in poop.

  • "colaberates" ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @07:18PM (#37436462)

    Not only misspelled, but it's the wrong word for the job.

    Humans (for now) working together collaborate.

    Data from disparate sources corroborate.

    Did the spell-checker take the weekend off?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by slashjunkie ( 800216 )

      Not only that, but "bacterias" is an interesting new take on a word that is already plural...

      One bacterium, many bacteria.

      Is it time to start teaching Latin again in schools?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...feces carries bacteria. News at 11.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It is just like the AIDS in the 80s. Even before AIDS, it was widely known that unprotected sex carried high risk of disease, but all of it was treatable, so people didn't think much of it. Then HIV spread, and things changed somewhat.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @08:30PM (#37436862) Journal
      The news isn't that. The news is that bacteria with some degree of antibiotic resistance are so common that they are showing up in a logical; but not closely linked to hospitals, livestock feedlots, or overmedicated humans, disease vector...

      You can find bacteria pretty much wherever you want, and feces usually has its share of pathogens; but time was when you had to go actively hunting, and in the right places, to find antibiotic resistance at any significant level.
  • the results of a small study that looked for resistant bacteria in seagull poop landing on Miami Beach in Florida

    OK guys, I've got enough reasons never to visit Florida.

    You can stop now. Huge cockroaches, rednecks and Rick Scott were sufficient, thank you.

    • by Bigbutt ( 65939 )

      My wife pestered me to move us to the Denver area from Virginia due to the heat and humidity and the really bad traffic. I lived in the DC area for 30 years before we finally moved. We've been here 8 years and now she wants us to move to Florida.

      Not happening.


  • The resistance factors identified in the seagull feces match ones that cause highly resistant infections in humans, and colaberates with data collected on beaches in Portugal, Sweden, and France.

    Even if you'd spelled that word correctly, if still wouldn't represent the intention. Substituting "correlates" actually tells people what you meant.

    • by macraig ( 621737 )

      Criticizing poor proofreading of article submissions is NOT "offtopic".

      The quality of the moderation at this site needs some proofreading or oversight as well. There appears to be an excess of kneejerk bad-attittude tribalistic jerks that have access to it. They're poisoning the well.

  • Where did the seagulls pick up the bacteria in the first place? I thought these bacteria were found only in hospitals. Maybe we should be more careful with our medical waste and not dump it unprocessed in landfills.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hospitals have toilets.
      Hospital poop contains antibiotics.
      Toilets flush with water.
      The seas are filled with water.
      Seagulls live by the sea.

      Cow poop from industrial farms contains antibiotics.
      Runoff from industrial cattle farms ends up in the river.
      The river runs to the sea.
      Seagulls live by the sea.

      Maybe we should take a look at ways to not put antibiotics into our water.

    • Where did the seagulls pick up the bacteria in the first place? I thought these bacteria were found only in hospitals. Maybe we should be more careful with our medical waste and not dump it unprocessed in landfills.

      You know those beady eyes that you see behind the surgical masks at hospitals? You think they're human, don't you?

      Think again.

  • by smpoole7 ( 1467717 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @12:12AM (#37437824) Homepage

    The point, as someone else has mentioned here, is that these bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. Given that we don't normally treat wild birds with antibiotics, this is actually kind of troublesome.

    This is probably due to the widespread prophylactic use of antibiotics in the feed given to farm animals, a practice that needs to be stopped (or at least sharply curtailed). Some antibiotics should be reserved only for use in humans, and then limited to cases where other antibiotics have proven ineffective.

    The problem is that the drug companies make so much money off of selling the antibiotics to the feed suppliers, they're not exactly eager to stop doing it. So every time they develop a new "miracle" antibiotic, at the same time that your doctor is prescribing it for an ear infection, a lot full or cows, chickens or pigs somewhere a few miles away is also eating that antibiotic in its feed.

    • by kanto ( 1851816 )

      Requires government oversight so that kills it for the US and the "free" world. The problem with these shortsighted practices is that there are fucktards in high places who hide behind assinine arguments where micro and macro swap places; surely giving porky antibiotics can't cause a global epidemic or a person driving any distance longer then their driveway can't cause global warming etc. Unless there is a working system of electroshock therapy (fines) and incentives (subsidies if doing the right thing) th

    • In Norway, a cleaning job in a hospital requires a 2 year training. But they make do without carpet bombing wide-spectrum antibiotics, and the number of patients with multi-resistant infections is very small. Think about it: any lab technician-in-training can scoop a bucket of water from the Thames, and measure the concentration of several antibiotics in it.
      • by kanto ( 1851816 )

        I think hospital infections are a misnomer since the patients in many cases have contracted them elsewhere and as seagull dung tells us that the resistent bacteria are spreading; they contagions are just more likely to cause problems for the carrier at a hospital because of open wounds and compromised immune systems.

        As a side note, my farther once had a small surgical operation on his scalp postponed for winter just to ward off infections. So I guess better move to Norway or the north pole if this really be

        • Actually, there was a story (I believe it was right here on /.) a while back about one common vector for MRSA in hospitals being the keyboards on the computers. The staff would be faithful about protecting themselves from the resistant staph, wearing gloves and masks, but would then walk out of the patient's room and touch something (like a keyboard) without thoroughly washing first. I'm sure that practice has since been stopped, but it shows the problem.

          And the address your specific contention, many people

          • by kanto ( 1851816 )

            My point was that the patient carries the MRSA on their skin to the hospital where it gains entrance to the blood stream or the soft tissue when the skin is punctured for any reason. Hospitals are like the toilet seat since you'd expect them to be just full of all sorts of issues, but similarly they're not really a good growing ground for bacteria by design; especially if you compare them to other things like schools, daycare, a regular office space etc.

          • by Urkki ( 668283 )

            It may be better to expose yourself to small quantities of these bacteria, so that your body and gut flora is used to dealing with them. So I wouldn't be paranoid, just handle food and kitchen cleanness in the normal, tidy way. Whatever bacteria gets through, your body can cope with. Especially with antibiotic-resistant bacteria around, it's important that human body can deal with them without the aid of antibiotics.

    • by gutnor ( 872759 )
      Antibiotics allow the cattle to digest corn and produce more meat, for reasons not completely understood. Chicken raised per square meter can be much higher with antibiotics. So, regardless how screwed the drug companies are, the food producer (notice: != farmer) are in the same pot.

      That is unfortunately one of the so many example of capitalism working as expected without either regulations or customer information (like for tobacco, it should be mandatory to describe your nugget as "mutilated chicken fed

      • > Antibiotics allow the cattle to ... produce more meat ...

        Yes, I know. Another reason they cram the animals full of antibiotics is because they're stuffed together in breeding stalls or crowded into feed lots, and it (supposedly) helps prevent them from getting sick. The latter reason is why they don't just limit feed suppliers to the older antibiotics, while reserving the newer ones for prescription use only. The farm animals themselves are developing resistant infections, so the farmers want to hit th

      • by jafac ( 1449 )

        There's the problem right there. Cattle digesting corn? Cattle eat grass. WTF? Corn+antibiotics? This is a man-made solution to a man-made problem, which is causing a new man-made problem. And I am certain a new man-made solution shall follow. Followed by some other man-made problem. What the FUCK is wrong with letting fucking cows eat fucking GRASS?!?!?!

  • So this is why the pigs were at war with them...
  • Maybe, just maybe (given that they only tested seagulls) - the seagulls aquired the resistant bacteria from the same place humans do.

    I'd want to see a study on bacteria in sewers and other birds before I jumped to the conclusion seagulls are the source. Oh wait - that would be thinking.

    I've already seen the result of testing chickens. (Hi Mr Steggles)

  • They've come to regard the birds as a vector. It seems like a crucial facet of all this would be, how, did the birds become an, apparently, very robust, vector?

    Are these brids scavenging anti-bacterials from various human food sources? are they absorbsing same from the sewer effluvia that we know eventually makes its way into many coastal waters?

    I'm always suspicious of these quirky "end reports" that seem to be spread without a context that might lead to some actual solution, or at least, amendment.

    • That was my question, too. Maybe the seagulls are snatching feed from nearby farms? Or is there some other vector?

      Like I said above, the truly troubling thing is that they've got these antibiotic-resistant bacteria in them to start with. That shows how widespread the problem has become, and we're back to my concerns about a "superbug."

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors