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Antarctica penguins in danger from human diseases, researchers say

Previous studies have found scattered instances of transfer of bacteria from humans to animals known as reverse zoonosis in the region, but research remained fragmented.However, scientists have now found widespread evidence of human-associated pathogens among Antarctic sea birds for the first time – as they say can have devastating consequences for the wildlife of the continent."This is the first time such an extensive study on geography and bird species has been conducted in the southern seas, which shows reasonably solid evidence of reverse zoonosis in the Antarctica," studyes author Jacob González-Solís, researcher at the Department of Zoology and biological anthropology at the University of Barcelona, ​​wrote in an email.Birds including penguins, brown skuas, southern giant petrels and kelpbags proved to have picked up bacteria like campylobacter and salmonella, according to the study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The team sampled feces from more than 600 adult sea birds in four places &#821 1; Livingston Island, Marion Island, Gough Island and Falkland Islands – between 2008 and 2011, with three findings suggesting reverse zoonos. Samples showed campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning in the United States and Europe, including genoty pes seldom or never found in wild birds earlier. Others contained campylobacter lari, common in skuas and gulls. However, the team found that these strains were resistant to common human and veterinary antibiotics ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin, suggesting contamination from humans or domestic animals. Researchers also found a strain of salmonella that was usually discovered in…

Previous studies have found scattered instances of transfer of bacteria from humans to animals known as reverse zoonosis in the region, but research remained fragmented.

However, scientists have now found widespread evidence of human-associated pathogens among Antarctic sea birds for the first time – as they say can have devastating consequences for the wildlife of the continent.

“This is the first time such an extensive study on geography and bird species has been conducted in the southern seas, which shows reasonably solid evidence of reverse zoonosis in the Antarctica,” studyes author Jacob González-Solís, researcher at the Department of Zoology and biological anthropology at the University of Barcelona, ​​wrote in an email.

Birds including penguins, brown skuas, southern giant petrels and kelpbags proved to have picked up bacteria like campylobacter and salmonella, according to the study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

The team sampled feces from more than 600 adult sea birds in four places &#821

1; Livingston Island, Marion Island, Gough Island and Falkland Islands – between 2008 and 2011, with three findings suggesting reverse zoonos.

Samples showed campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning in the United States and Europe, including genoty pes seldom or never found in wild birds earlier.

Others contained campylobacter lari, common in skuas and gulls. However, the team found that these strains were resistant to common human and veterinary antibiotics ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin, suggesting contamination from humans or domestic animals.

Researchers also found a strain of salmonella that was usually discovered in descending birds living in urban areas.

Although these bacteria are not associated with high death rates in animals, their presence shows that other dangerous pathogens could come on the continent, says study writer Marta Cerdà-Cuéllar, a researcher at the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology in Barcelona.

“If these pathogens could come, then others,” wrote Cerdà-Cuéllar in an email. “We can say that any bird or mammal could be affected by a zoonotic agent.”

And it can have devastating consequences.

“This means that human activity sooner or later will introduce pathogens to the Antarctic fauna that can cause mass death and local extinction,” said González-Solis.

Although the study says that signs of reverse zoonosis are quite solid, the authors are not sure how the birds came into contact with the bacteria.

“There are various possibilities most likely to be the contact between Antarctica and Antarctica fauna with domestic birds in the subantarctic communities like Falkland, but they may also be legacy from old whaling , Antarctica research stations and the growth of Antarctic tourism, “said González-Solis.

With increasing numbers of potentially evasive tourists, the authors recommend tougher controls on visitors.

” To prevent pathogens coming, more stringent biosecurity measures are required in order to to limit people’s impact on Antarctica, “says Cerdà-Cuéllar.

A Jonas Bonnedahl, Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences at the Clinical and Experimental Medical Department at Sweden’s Linköping University, has spread people in Antarctica which have rarely spread to wild animals.

“I also think it is fair to say that it is the permanent research data that must be blamed here, rather than the tourism industry.” Bonnedahl, who has researched human-borne bacteria in Antarctica and did not participate in the study, wrote in an email. “Much has happened in recent years, and I think most nations now make greater efforts in biosecurity about drainage from research bases.”

However, he agrees that the increase in tourist numbers is a concern.

The number of visitors to Antarctica has continually crept up in recent years, with 44,367 tourists traveling there in the 2016-17 season.

These revelations about the potential impact of tourism in the Antarctic cause increased concern about visitors’ numbers in other parts of the world.

 The Otter Trail in South Africa has a waiting list to wander their rugged roads

The Galapagos Islands off the Ecuador coast are probably the most famous natural habitats in the world, and Visitors are restricted to specific locations and marked tracks only, and a guide is always required.

The Bhutanese Himalayan Kingdom is another destination that attempts to control visitors’ numbers, with a “high value, low-impact” tourism policy that sees visitors being charged $ 200 or $ 250 a day, depending on the season.

The locals have cited concerns about environmental impact on its fragile ecosystems, as well as an oversight of foreign visitors.

And South Africa’s famous Otter Trail Coastal Trail has so limited number of places that hikers must book up to a year in advance.

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