The Antarctic penguin is actually a disaster for tourists?

A study published in the journal Science and the Whole Environment shows that many human-related pathogens have spread from humans to birds in Antarctica. It includes Campylobacter jejuni that can cause food poisoning, and even a Salmonella that can only be found in urban birds.

Animals are not new to transmitting diseases to humans. Commonly include Ebola, Zika virus and anthrax. But when you’re trying to find a disease that is passed on to humans by humans, you usually get nothing. But according to the Science Journal, some pathogens such as influenza, mumps and salmonella can pass back and forth between humans and animals.

The process by which humans pass pathogens to other animals is called reverse zoonosis. Previous researchers have suggested that this bacterial exchange will not occur in Antarctica, but the team behind this latest study is skeptical. They collected fecal samples from 66 adult birds from 24 different species, including the Rock Jumping Penguin, the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, the Blue Swallow and the Skua.

To analyze a pathogen, the sample needs to be as clean as possible, so scientists have to catch the birds and clean them with a sterile cotton swab. Jacob Gonzalez Solis, an environmental and evolutionary biologist at the University of Barcelona, ​​said: “The penguin is very strong and the skua is very clever. If you didn’t catch the skua for the first time, the second capture would be By luck.

The sample collection process continued from 2011 to 2014 and included birds from Livingston Island, Marion Island, Gough Island and Falkland Island. In the sample analysis, the researchers found the previously mentioned Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, and another gastrointestinal tract C. Lari virus that causes human stomach pain. The C.Lari virus is resistant to human antibiotics, which indicates that it is transmitted from humans to birds.

Researchers are not sure how birds are infected with the virus. They said: “There are many possibilities. The most likely scenario is the result of contact between Antarctic animals and domesticated birds in the sub-Antarctic region, but it may also be the result of a long history of whaling operations, Antarctic scientific research stations and Antarctic tourism. as a result of.”

These birds may not be at risk because the researchers did not find any cases in which they died from these pathogens. But one problem still deserves our attention: the emergence of these pathogens means that there are likely to be other more dangerous pathogens causing problems in these animal populations.

The researchers said in a statement: “These Salmonella and Campylobacter usually do not cause the death of wild animals. However, if a highly sensitive animal population infects a highly aggressive pathogen, it may have serious consequences and lead to some local The decline of species is even extinct.”

To protect these animals, the researchers recommend that scientists and travelers working in Antarctica adopt more stringent biosafety initiatives, including the handling of human waste.