Bacteria carrier: Flies spread far more pathogens than previously thought

Disease trigger: Flies carry hundreds of bacteria

Nobody likes to fly in the apartment or even on their food. Not only because they are annoying, but also because the insects can spread diseases. In a current study, researchers have now found that houseflies and blowflies carry significantly more types of bacteria than previously thought.

Flies transmit diseases

Flies are not only annoying little pests for humans and animals, they can also transmit dangerous pathogens. Scientists at the University of Düsseldorf reported years ago that they found enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) bacteria in addition to some mold in fly samples. A recent study by an international team of researchers has now shown that the insects carry much more pathogens than previously thought.

Insects collected on three continents

The study, led by scientists from Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU Singapore), found that houseflies and blowflies contribute more to the spread of diseases than previously thought.

For their analysis, the experts collected 116 individual houseflies and blowflies from different habitats on three continents and subjected them to a detailed analysis.

The results of the work have now been published in Nature Publishing Group's renowned scientific reports.

More than 600 different types of bacteria

According to the scientists, DNA analysis showed that each of these flies transported up to several hundred different types of bacteria, some of which can be harmful to humans.

The team found a total of over 600 different types of bacteria.

These include pathogens that are associated with infectious diseases such as gastrointestinal flu, blood poisoning or pneumonia.

Cancer triggered by flying

Helicobacter pylori was also identified in some cases. This pathogen, which can cause gastric ulcers in humans, is one of the dangerous germs that can cause cancer.

The bacterium is considered the most important risk factor for the development of stomach cancer.

"Although it is known to be spread via body fluids and smear infections, it is the first time that it has been demonstrated that H. pylori is spread via flies in the environment," said a statement from the Nanyang Technological University.

Bacteria can fly

"Our study showed that bacteria can fly if they fly with conventional flies," said Prof. Stephan Schuster from NTU Singapore.

"They pick up the microbiome on their feet, sprinkle it on their wings in a similar way as we comb our hair, and then scatter it on surfaces where they land."

But even if flies are carriers of disease, they are also an important part of the ecosystem, since they serve, among other things, as pollinators for plants, such as Dr. Ana Carolina Martins Junqueira from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro explained.

The research team believes that flies could also be used as an early warning system for epidemics.

For this, germ-free flies would have to be bred, which could then be sent as a kind of mini drone into the smallest cracks and crevices, where microbes will stick to them, which can then be examined. (ad)

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