NASA scientists have discovered the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria on the International space station. The bacteria strains were found in the ISS’s exercise area and bathroom, according to a new study, though they aren’t likely to hurt the humans on board. The bacteria Enterobacter‘s presence on the ISS is worrisome to officials, however, as a pathogenic variety might place the astronauts in danger.
A total of 5 strains were isolated from the ISS’s exercise platform and space bathroom during analysis on the bacteria living on the space station. Researchers with NASA JPL analyzed the 5 strains, comparing them with the genomes of over a thousand Enterobacter strains on Earth.
All 5 had genetic similarities to 3 particular Earth strains belonging to the bacterium Enterobacter bugandensis, that could cause health problems for infants and individuals with compromised immune systems. The scientists found that the ISS’s 5 strains aren’t virulent, however, and so don’t pose an active threat to human health.
Using a computer model, the team determined that the strains have a 79-percent chance of inflicting disease, however additional analysis on living animals will be necessary to determine whether this is the case. As well, researchers still ought to determine the impact the ISS’s space surroundings has on the bacteria.