A superbug that can resist one of the strongest known antibiotics has been found in a very mobile carrier. One recently published study has confirmed its presence in kelp gulls in Argentina while another has located it in Lithuania’s European herring gulls.
The research amps up public health concerns about the spread of this highly spreadable bacteria since these animals can fly long distances and transmit it to other animals.
The bug, which is associated with the gene mrc-1, was first spotted last year in E. coli carried by Chinese pigs. Once scientists realized mrc-1 was able to resist colistin, an antibiotic used when all others have failed, they began to look for its presence elsewhere in the wild.
National Geographic reports that nearly 100 cases have since been found globally. And even though the gene is not common in the U.S., it was detected in a Pennsylvania woman last month. American officials do not know exactly how she contracted it, but they plan to monitor the health system for its presence elsewhere.