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NASA scientists find superbug

NASA scientists have found a superbug on the International Space Station (ISS), which could be infectious.

A new study has revealed that samples of bacteria resistant to several antibiotics have been found on board the ISS, and while the bacteria may not have made any astronauts sick as of yet, the authors of the report say it's pretty likely that they can.

The study was published in BMC Microbiology last week, and was penned primarily by members of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory - which is managed by the California Institute of Technology - as a continuation of their ongoing work into superbugs on board the space station.

In January, the same team published research which analysed samples swabbed from the surfaces of the ISS in 2015, where they found more than 100 bacterial genes known to help make bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

According to Gizmodo, the new study aimed to find out how dangerous the strains of bacteria - known as E. bugandensis - could be to human health, and it was estimated that the strains were 79 percent likely to be disease-causing.

Whilst no-one on board the ISS has been infected, E. bugandensis is known to cause sepsis - a too drastic immune response to infection that can fatally shut down our organs - in newborns and the elderly, as well as those with weaker immune systems, and could pose a threat with the increased resistance to antibiotics.

One of the study's authors, Kasthuri Venkateswaran, said: "Whether or not an opportunistic pathogen like E. bugandensis causes disease and how much of a threat it is, depends on a variety of factors, including environmental ones.

"Further in vivo studies are needed to discern the impact that conditions on the ISS, such as microgravity, other space, and spacecraft-related factors, may have on pathogenicity and virulence."

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