The bacteria are considered to be resistant to antibiotics, which means that they were once easily treatable but now aren't.
Stomachs Colonized By Bacteria
Researchers chose surfers as their main subjects in the study because they were known to ingest sea water 10 times more than swimmers and beachgoers.
They wanted to test whether or not surfers are more likely than others to get infected by bacteria from polluted water, and if those bacteria are antibiotic-resistant.
In the new study published on Jan. 14 in the journal Environment International, researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom brought in 300 individuals and took fecal samples from them for analysis.
Nearly 50 percent of the participants were known as regular surfers who surfed around the coastline of the United Kingdom. The surfers' fecal samples were then compared with those of non-surfers.
According to the researchers, the comparison was made in order to check if the stomachs of the surfers contained E. coli that can develop while an antibiotic was present.
Cefotaxime As Antibiotic
The antibiotic of choice was cefotaxime. It's an important medication that is commonly used to treat bacterial infections such as joint infections, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and gonorrhea.
The medication is usually given either by injecting it into a vein or muscle. It used to work well in fighting off the E. coli bacteria but some have picked up genes that allowed them to resist the treatment.
Results Of The Study
According to the results of the research, 9 percent or 13 out of the 143 surfers in the study got the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their stomachs in comparison with only 3 percent or 4 out of the 130 non-surfers.
This means that the bacteria could continue to develop even when they were treated with cefotaxime, according to the researchers. Also, they discovered that those who surf on a regular basis are four times more likely to harbor bacteria, which carry genes that can move easily.
According to the World Health Organization, there are few antibiotics currently in the development that can address the serious and growing threat of Antimicrobial Resistance.
"Antimicrobial resistance has been globally recognised as one of the greatest health challenges of our time, and there is now an increasing focus on how resistance can be spread through our natural environments," said Dr. Anne Leonard, of the University of Exeter Medical School and leader of the study. "We urgently need to know more about how humans are exposed to these bacteria and how they colonise our guts."