Up to 90 percent of insects found in British hospitals carry potentially harmful bacteria, according to new research. Seriously, a significant portion of this bacterium is resistant to one or more antibiotics that highlight a previously underestimated health risk – even though the researchers are aware that the risk of infection is low.
New research published last week in the Journal of Medical Entomology shows that almost 9 out of 10 insects trapped in British hospitals had problematic bacteria, including potentially harmful bacteria such as E. coli Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus . More than half of these bacteria were found to be resistant to one or more antibiotics. The majority of bugs analyzed in this study were flying insects, a finding that underlines "the importance of pest control in health care to prevent public health risk to patients", as stated in a press release from Aston University.
In an email to Gizmodo, Federica Boiocchi, co-author of the studio and a PhD student at Aston University said that there is a risk of infection, but it is not as high as we might think.
"It depends mainly on the bacteria carried by the fly and where the fly lands," she said. "Our study showed that some flies carry pathogenic bacteria, but the amount of bacteria recovered was not enough to cause infection. The risk is mainly due to the fact that flies represent a bacterial reservoir."
Boiocchi offered the following scenario: A fly lands on a piece of apple and releases some bacterial cells present on its legs or in stools. These bacterial cells, although pathogenic, cannot cause an infection because there are too few of them, she said, but perhaps after hours ̵
Anthony Hilton, lead author of the new study and a professor of applied microbiology at Aston University, echoed these feelings in the press release and says Britain's National Health Service (NHS) hospitals are "extremely clean environments" and that the risk of bacterial infection from insects is "very low". The most important message in the paper, he said, "that even in the cleanest environments, it is important to take steps to prevent bacteria from being brought into hospitals by insects," adding that "NHS hospitals are already implementing many of these measures. but there are simple steps that can be taken to improve this further. "
Insects I breed A new hospital, such as cockroaches, bed runners and ants, is a well-researched health claim, but less known about flying insects and their potential to spread diseases around health settings. For the new study, Aston University PhD student Federica Boiocchi and her colleagues used ultraviolet (UV) light traps, electronic floats and adhesive traps to gather nearly 20,000 insects. The traps were placed in departments, neonatal and maternity units and in areas where food was prepared. The bugs were caught in seven different British hospitals over an 18-month period from March 2010 to August 2011.
Of the 19,937 individual bugs caught, flies (Diptera) were the most common, representing 73.4 percent of the samples. These included species such as common house flutes, bluebottles, greenbottles, midges and mosquitoes. Other insects caught include aphids, ants, wasps, bees and mills.
Focus on the flies, the researchers discovered 86 different bacterial strains, either on or inside their bodies, but not in the amounts required to kick-start an infection. The most common strains included the family Enterobacteriaceae (a group comprising E. coli and Salmonella ) at 41% Bacillus (some strains resulting in food poisoning ) at 24 percent and Staphylococcus (a group including S. aureus which can cause skin and respiratory infections) at 19 percent.
The researchers found that 53 percent of the bacteria on the flies were resistant to one or more types of antibiotics. Of these, 19 percent were resistant to several antibiotics. Penicillin was found to be among the least effective of antibiotics, with vancomycin and levofloxacin not too far behind. As Boiocchi pointed out, this is "a living reminder of how our use of antibiotics in health settings makes infections more difficult to treat."
Asked what surprised her most about the study, Boiocchi said that it was the vast diversity of insect species found in hospitals.
"Flying carrier bacteria is nothing new, but I was really surprised to find many different species, especially outdoor insects that do not belong in that environment!" She wrote.
The data presented in the new paper is certainly a bit disturbing, but as Hilton pointed out, insects play "a very small role in the transfer of bacteria." The ability to acquire an infection from a flying insect is low, but it will not hurt to reduce their population in hospitals just to be safe.