Sea swimmers no more at risk of superbugs than non-swimmers, research suggests

Sea swimmers in Ireland are not any extra vulnerable to selecting up lethal superbugs than those that don’t take a daily dip, preliminary outcomes from a scientific research recommend.

Academics at NUI Galway mentioned they’ve been “surprised” on the findings, which apparently contradict warnings about the specter of presumably life-threatening infections, after testing tons of of individuals from nearly each county within the nation.

Dr Liam Burke, a microbiologist engaged on the continuing research, mentioned it was “great” information for these taking to lakes, rivers and seas, amid considerations about hyperlinks between antibiotic-resistant superbugs and air pollution from sewage, manure and effluent.

“Our preliminary data so far suggests swimmers are not any more likely to pick up these bugs than anyone who doesn’t swim,” he mentioned.

“But it is early days yet. We are hoping to find out if there any significant exposure differences in the groups tested to explain the differences.”

After interesting for swimmers and non-swimmers to participate within the research, greater than 1,000 individuals bought involved. Researchers whittled the quantity all the way down to 428 – nearly half who take a daily dip in open waterways, and barely greater than half who don’t. Participants primarily drawn from massive coastal populations in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Waterford, supplied faecal samples between September 2020 and October 2021.

The group then examined the samples for carbapenemase producing enterobacteriaceae (CPE) and prolonged spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) – each categorised by the World Health Organisation as “priority one” superbugs.

The bugs can dwell harmlessly within the guts of wholesome individuals, however can simply unfold to extra susceptible individuals, together with these with weaker immune programs, the sick, the very outdated and the very younger.

Outbreaks – primarily in hospital wards – have been rising in Ireland and worldwide in recent times.

The bugs are immune to “last resort” antibiotics and are “potentially lethal” in the event that they infect the likes of the blood stream, bladder, lungs or kidneys, says Dr Burke.


While analysis reveals antibiotic-resistant micro organism is current in Irish coastal waters, lakes and rivers, primarily from sewage, waste water and manure operating off from farms throughout heavy rainfall, the extent of the issue just isn’t absolutely recognized.

However, the contemporary research reveals 6 per cent of standard swimmers had been discovered to have been carrying ESBLs in contrast with 11 per cent – nearly double – of those that don’t get into the water continuously.

In each teams, 3 per cent of members had been discovered to be carrying CPE – the identical proportion.

“It did surprise us,” says Dr Burke. “If there was going to be any distinction within the two teams [water users and non-water users] we thought there may very well be a small distinction the opposite means round.

“I feel it’s nice for anyone who’s swimming repeatedly. Obviously extra work must be finished – it is just a survey of a comparatively small variety of individuals, in comparison with the general quantity of people that swim repeatedly.

“But it bodes well for those people who are using the sea, that they aren’t at any more risk, it seems, from picking up superbugs than those who don’t.”

Dr Burke pressured the findings are preliminary, and extra work is to be finished on the genetic sequence of the info, in addition to on different publicity dangers of members, corresponding to workplaces and food plan.

“I think it would probably be going too far to say swimmers are less likely to pick up these superbugs… but all the evidence we have so far suggests there isn’t any major increased risk for those who swim, against those who don’t swim,” says Dr Burke.

The preliminary findings from the analysis, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, are to be introduced on the thirty second European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, beginning in Lisbon, Portugal, on Saturday.

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