Unintentionally Sharing Our Microbes With African Wildlife

Passing Disease – ResistanceScientists are finding microbes that are resistant to antibiotics, and they’re finding these microbes in wild animals in Africa. The question is, how did that happen? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Alexander: And the reason why antibiotic testing is so important and so interesting is that it arises in humans, largely. So, if we can identify that theres antibiotic-resistant E. coli in zebra or in a lion, then we can begin to infer that lions and zebra are connected to humans and theyve been exposed to human pathogens. So.. antibiotic resistance is a signature for human contact.Kathleen Alexander is an associate professor of wildlife in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech. One of the microbes she tests for is E. coli, a bacteria found in the gut of virtually every mammal.Alexander: By asking if humans and zebra have similar E. coli or E. coli that has antibiotic resistance that must come from humans, we then can start saying, Where else do we see it? So, do we see it in the water? Do we see it in the soil? And where is the medium that connects us? Where does the exposure occur? And thats why we collect samples all across this environment, bring them back to the lab, and look for those connections.Alexander: So, for example, what we might find is that we are seeing that water is an important medium through which its passing. That may make us start looking at other things. Is it septic tanks that are being dumped into or leaking into the river way? Is it rainfall and human feces when people dont have access to toilets that’s running into the water? Then, we can start saying, Hmm. The water is important here.Dr. Alexander’s work has important implications for our understanding of how diseases are transmitted and can be treated. We’ll hear more in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner

Unintentionally Sharing Our Microbes With African Wildlife

Scientists are finding antibiotic-resistant microbes in the wildlife of Africa.
Air Date:10/16/2019
Scientist:
Transcript:

Passing Disease - ResistanceScientists are finding microbes that are resistant to antibiotics, and they're finding these microbes in wild animals in Africa. The question is, how did that happen? I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Alexander: And the reason why antibiotic testing is so important and so interesting is that it arises in humans, largely. So, if we can identify that theres antibiotic-resistant E. coli in zebra or in a lion, then we can begin to infer that lions and zebra are connected to humans and theyve been exposed to human pathogens. So.. antibiotic resistance is a signature for human contact.Kathleen Alexander is an associate professor of wildlife in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech. One of the microbes she tests for is E. coli, a bacteria found in the gut of virtually every mammal.Alexander: By asking if humans and zebra have similar E. coli or E. coli that has antibiotic resistance that must come from humans, we then can start saying, Where else do we see it? So, do we see it in the water? Do we see it in the soil? And where is the medium that connects us? Where does the exposure occur? And thats why we collect samples all across this environment, bring them back to the lab, and look for those connections.Alexander: So, for example, what we might find is that we are seeing that water is an important medium through which its passing. That may make us start looking at other things. Is it septic tanks that are being dumped into or leaking into the river way? Is it rainfall and human feces when people dont have access to toilets that's running into the water? Then, we can start saying, Hmm. The water is important here.Dr. Alexander's work has important implications for our understanding of how diseases are transmitted and can be treated. We'll hear more in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner