Research, Technology

Ancient bacteria could make diseases worse than coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic started in 2020unexpectedly and profoundly changed the whole world. A huge number of people have learned to work from home, learned what a QR code is, learned to wash their hands regularly, and so on. Without a doubt, this is one of the most serious tests for humanity in the last few centuries. However, scientists believe that we still got off lightly - if measures are not taken, something worse than the coronavirus pandemic may await us in the future. In 2017, on the territory of Antarctica, a team of biologists led by Andres Marcolet found bacteria in glaciers that are resistant to antibiotics. This discovery is very alarming for scientists, because bacteria that develop in extreme conditions can cause diseases that cannot be treated with current drugs.

Bacteria found in permafrost could cause a new pandemic

Ancient bacteria in Antarctica

Expedition led by Andres Marcoletlasted from 2017 to 2019. While studying samples of eternal ice, they managed to find microorganisms that have evolved over millions of years in extremely cold conditions. They were found both on the surface and in specially drilled wells, but have been dormant for thousands of years.

Bacteria trapped in Antarctic ice

During the study of the genetic code of bacteria,scientists have found they are resistant to antibiotics and antimicrobials. They cannot be called immortal, but it is almost impossible to destroy them with substances that exist today. According to experts, among whom there is also a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rae Kwon Chung, the spread of these bacteria to other continents can cause diseases that cannot be cured.

In the future, many medicines may become useless

Bacteria may become more dangerous

By themselves, bacteria found in Antarctica are notare pathogens. For example, among them there are representatives of Pseudomonas (Pseudomonas), which demonstrate the rapid colonization of free spaces. The danger of these bacteria is that they can transfer their resistance to antibiotics to other, more dangerous bacteria.

One of the representatives of the bacteria Pseudomonas

Ancient bacteria may leave the reservoir atAntarctica, transfer their properties to pathogens and cause the spread of new infectious diseases. New bacteria will become immune to drugs and disinfection methods familiar to us, scientists warn.

One can imagine a scenario in which the genesdrug resistance will be transferred to E. coli (Escherichia coli). Some types of these microbes cannot cause harm, but there are varieties that provoke intestinal infections and cause hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world. Diseases caused by bacteria already lead to the death of people, and now imagine that they cannot be treated with drugs - it will be a global catastrophe.

E. coli Escherichia coli

In the same way, the genes of ancient bacteria canbe transmitted to other pathogenic microbes, such as Salmonella typhi. It provokes typhoid fever, the symptoms of which are high fever, severe abdominal pain, migraine and weakness. If ancient bacteria come out of their reservoirs, something more serious than a coronavirus pandemic could really begin on our planet!

What do salmonella look like?

See also: Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Lived Long Before Drugs Appeared

Where else are dangerous bacteria hiding?

Scientists say antibiotic-resistant bacteriacan hide not only in the ice of Antarctica, but also in Siberia. Researchers have been warning us for years about global warming and the melting of glaciers - huge ice has been rapidly melting for a long time. Turning into water, the ice can release ancient bacteria, and the current can spread them around the world. An alarming picture is emerging and it seems that in the future, humanity will not be happy. No one knows how to avoid a terrible future, you need to look for something stronger than antibiotics.

Glaciers are melting and it's almost impossible to stop it

Notably, drug-resistant bacteriaarise for other reasons. The most important of them is, of course, the careless use of antibiotics by people. But besides this, drug-resistant microbes arise due to the accumulation of microplastics - we talked about this in detail here.


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