Medicine

Flies may be far more risky than we first thought

Flies may be far more risky than we first thought

A team of global scientists discovered Friday that maintaining flies away from human food is actually more intelligent than it was already thought before. It was also noted that flies in urban areas carry more bacteria than in the countryside.

He found that they even carry the pathogen Helicobacter pylori, which causes stomach ulcers in humans and is the most common risk factor for gastric cancer.

Based on the findings of a new study from Pennsylvania State University, houseflies and blowflies combine to carry over 600 different forms of bacteria. Both species also carried several separate types of bacteria in common.

A fly's legs appear to transfer the most microbial content from one surface to another, he said.

Flies may already be a nuisance as it is to the average person, but new research suggests that two common species - houseflies and blowflies - might be deadlier than suspected in terms of the diseases they potentially carry.

Flies often come into contact with faeces and decaying organic matter, picking up bacteria that can be harmful to humans.

A co-researcher, Prof Bryant, stated that public health officials should consider these flies a cause in "rapid transmission of pathogens in outbreak situations".

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These included Helicobacter pylori, a pathogen often causing ulcers in the gut. Until now, flies have not been considered as a potential route of transmission of this severe disease.

"It will really make you think twice about eating that potato salad that's been sitting out at your next picnic", Mr Bryant said.

The bacteria are linked with many illnesses such as stomach bugs, blood poisoning and pneumonia, all being a different type of infection. It might be better to have that picnic in the woods, far away from urban environments, than in a central park, suggested the researchers.

Ana Carolina Junqueira, professor of genetics and genomics at the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro and previous postdoctoral fellow at the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), said that the novel genomic and computational methods used for the study allowed the team an unprecedented look at the microbial community carried by flies. For instance they can be serving as living drones that can act as an early-warning system for diseases.

After all of this, the researchers said that public health officials might have overlooked the animals to note them as a source of disease outbreaks.

Using DNA sequencing, the researchers analyzed the various microbes found in houseflies (Musca domestica) and blowflies (Chrysomya megacephala), collecting 116 of both species from habitats around the world, including those in the United States, Brazil, and Singapore.

He said that they could be used as "autonomous bionic drones into even the smallest spaces and crevices and, upon being recaptured, inform about any biotic material they have encountered".


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