Clouds can carry drug-resistant bacteria - scientists

Bylim Olena

Clouds can carry drug-resistant bacteria - scientists

Canadian and French researchers have said that dark clouds on the horizon are potentially dangerous. It turned out that they carry drug-resistant bacteria over long distances.

The scientists' discovery was published in the journal Science of The Total Environment. The lead author of the study, Florent Rossi, explained to Agence France-Presse that these bacteria usually live on the surface of vegetation or in the soil. They are carried into the atmosphere by the wind and can travel long distances in the clouds.

Researchers from Laval University in Quebec and the University of Clermont Auvergne in central France have been studying antibiotic-resistant genes in bacteria found in cloud samples. These samples were taken from September 2019 to October 2021 from an atmospheric research station located at an altitude of 1465 meters above sea level atop Puy de Dome, a dormant volcano in central France.

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The analysis of the samples showed that they contained from 330 to more than 30,000 bacteria per milliliter of cloud water, i.e. an average of about 8,000 bacteria per milliliter. They also identified 29 subtypes of antibiotic-resistant genes in the bacteria.

Drug resistance occurs when bacteria are exposed to antibiotics and develop immunity to them over generations. Scientists warn that these adaptations are becoming "a major public health problem worldwide," making it difficult, if not impossible, to treat certain bacterial infections as antibiotic use continues to grow in healthcare and agriculture.

Researchers do not yet have conclusions about the potential health effects of the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the atmosphere. But they say that 5 to 50 percent of the dangerous organisms could be alive and potentially active.

"The atmosphere is very stressful for bacteria, and most of the ones we found were environmental bacteria that are less likely to be harmful to humans. So people shouldn't be afraid to walk in the rain. But it's unclear whether these genes will be transferred to other bacteria," added study author Florent Rossi.

Earlier, scientists found a strange underwater volcano that looks like a large cupcake.

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