Never mind Hitchcock’s seminal horror movie The Birds because they have nothing on the seagulls and their pooping health disaster in the making.
It seems that in our world of increasing drug resistance this resistance is showing up in some of the weirdest place, with the most recent example being the fact that scientists have discovered drug resistant variations of the E. coli bacteria in seagull droppings.
At the annual ICAAC meeting in Chicago, the largest infectious-disease conference in the United States, Dr. Patrice Nordmann of the Hopital de Bicetre near Paris disclosed results of a small study that looked for resistant bacteria in the feces of seagulls 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.
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.
“Our opinion is that seagulls could be an important vector of multi-drug resistant bacteria,” Nordmann said in a press briefing on the first day of the giant meeting. “These birds fly 200, 300, 1,000 kilometers. We think this is a worldwide phenomenon.”
The finding is important, he said, because the resistance factors identified in the seagull feces match ones that cause highly resistant infections in humans — not only in hospitals, but in everyday life, where the route of infection is often unclear.
I always thought those seagulls were dirty birds now we can blame them for the next case of the Black Plague or something.