Surfers Help Science in Fight against Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria with their Poop

Surfers Help Science in Fight against Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria with their Poop

Photo Credit: Surfers Against Sewage

This will blow your geek mind. Scientists and surfers work together to find out how human sewage and diffuse pollution in seawater might be affected by antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Why surfers can help research into how water pollutions is affecting antibiotic resistant bacteria? They are exposed more than other water athletes to sea water. For research into one of the possibly biggest problems in the human health area requires surfers to send in rectal swabs.

A group from the University of Exeter Medical School is joining forces with environmental charity, Surfer’s Against Sewage, and calling on surfers across the country to help by providing samples gathered from rectal swabs.

In the first project of its kind, the witty named Beach Bums study wants to recruit 150 surfers and bodyboarders who surf at least three times a month. In a novel approach to data collection, the team is also asking each participant to recruit someone who doesn’t surf.

The swabs will give researchers an insight into the microbes that are colonizing participant’s guts and they are hoping that by comparing samples from those who regularly spend time in seawater with those who don’t, they’ll be able to build a clearer picture of how antibiotic resistance in the environment can affect people.

The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria has been described as one of the greatest health threats facing humans today. As microbes become immune to existing antibiotics, our ability to treat common infections is rapidly diminishing and a UK government review recently called on the global pharmaceutical industry to create a £1.3bn innovation fund into new antibiotics research.

Anne Leonard, one of the researchers leading the study, said: “We know that surfers regularly swallow lots more seawater than other beach users – around 170 ml per session, which is more than 10 times that of sea swimmers. We’ve already shown that this water /4/contain antibiotic resistant bacteria but we have no idea how this might affect the microbes that live in our guts, or how it could impact upon health. So we’re asking healthy adults who surf or bodyboard at least 3 times a month to take part in a study that will shed much needed light on the effects of marine pollution.”

Andy Cummins, Campaigns Director at Surfers Against Sewage, said: “Whilst water quality has improved dramatically in the last 20 years, coastal waters can still be contaminated by sewage from both animals and humans, introducing billions of potentially harmful bacteria into the ocean environment. We want to build a clearer picture of the risks people face when entering the water, so we can ensure our seas are safe for everyone to enjoy. Monday 8th June marks World Oceans Day and we’re launching the Beach Bums study today because we truly believe that healthy oceans can lead to a healthy planet.”

To participate, volunteers should register their details with Surfers Against Sewage here and must live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. They will be provided with a Beach Bums kit to collect their samples and also asked to complete a short questionnaire. All data collected will be treated as strictly confidential. Via the University of Exeter.

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