Because I know you just can’t get enough bad news about the prevalence of drug-resistant E. coli, kindly direct your attention to the latest bit of terrifying news: Those hearty little bacteria have now been found in Arctic birds…who have never been anywhere near a hospital, poultry plants, or anywhere else one might expect E. coli to lurk.
The birds are exposed to the bacteria during migration, when they cross paths with other birds who carry the bacteria—specifically, when they step in their acquaintances’ feces (yeah, gross, but you know, they’re birds). The takeaway lesson: Our actions (overusing antibiotics, in this case) have far-reaching consequences. As microbiology professor Dr. Roy Steigbigel told Newsday:
“We live in a world of migration of all sorts of animals, birds and humans,” Steigbigel said. “We had an example recently of multi-drug-resistant TB. I see all of it as a continuum: as birds migrating on wings to humans migrating in airplanes.”
As if Arctic birds don’t have enough problems.