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Australian seagulls found to carry antibiotic resistant bacteria
Silver gulls carry bacteria that are resistant to the commonly used antimicrobial drugs, cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones.
Birds earmarked as potential reservoirs for human disease

Seagulls across Australia carry antibiotic resistant bacteria that cause serious infections in humans, according to new research.

Scientists at Murdoch University, Perth, found that 20 per cent of silver gulls carry bacteria that cause infections such as E.coli, urinary tract infections and sepsis. Study leader Dr Sam Abraham said the problem was prevalent across Australia.

“Seagulls act as ecological sponges (bio-accumulators) and we have earmarked them as a potential reservoir for agents that may cause human disease,” he explained.

The study revealed that silver gulls carry bacteria that are resistant to the commonly used antimicrobial drugs, cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. It also found resistance to carbapanem drugs - a class of antibiotics often used for severe infections - in birds from New South Wales and Victoria.

The researchers also found evidence of a seagull in Western Australia carrying resistance to the ‘last resort’ antibiotic, colistin. Study author Dr Mark O’Dea said it was the first time resistance to this drug has been recorded in an Australian wild animal.

“Our results have raised the concern that seagulls could be acquiring this pathogen through their opportunistic feeding habits where they scavenge from leftover human waste and may then be subsequently spreading these resistant bacteria over vast distances,” he said.

“Management of this issue will require examination of human waste sources to determine where gulls are acquiring these elements, and whether or not this can be managed.”

The study, Resistance to critically important antimicrobials in Australian silver gulls (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) and evidence of anthropogenic origins, is published in Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

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Big Butterfly Count returns

News Story 1
 The world's biggest survey of butterflies is back for 2020!

Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count launches on Friday, 17 July and will run until Sunday 9 August. Members of the public can get involved by downloading the Big Butterfly Count App or recording results on a downloadable sheet available from bigbutterflycount.org/.

'It's a fantastic activity for people from three to 103 years and we'd encourage everyone to take 15 minutes in an appropriate outdoor space during sunny conditions to simply appreciate the nature around them and do their bit to help us understand butterfly populations,' said a Butterfly Conservation spokesperson. 

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News Shorts
New appointment at Dechra

Dechra Veterinary Products Ltd (Dechra) has announced a key appointment to support veterinary professionals across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Karen Hockley has been appointed as a telesales account manager and will provide the latest products, news and developments from Dechra. She joins the company from a large mixed practice in Northern Ireland where she was the branch manager.

Before that, Karen had worked for a multinational veterinary pharmaceutical company as a key account manager for Northern Ireland. She can be contacted at karen.hockley@dechra.com or 087 219 54 30.