The International Space Station is said to be infested with mysterious ‘space bugs’ which may be leaving astronauts at risk of ‘serious harm’.
Bugs, which are similar to those found in hospitals, have been discovered by a group of scientists, who found the thriving ecosystem of ‘infectious organisms’.
A NASA team discovered five different varieties of Enterobacter, with researchers figuring out there’s a ’79 per cent probability they may potentially cause disease’.
Both the toilet and the base’s exercise area onboard the orbiting space station were listed as two of the main sites of infection. According to BMC Microbiology, four strains were isolated from the toilet and one strain from the exercise platform.
There are growing concerns how portions of the bacteria could be drug-resistant, and would subsequently leave astronauts at risk of serious harm should traditional treatments fail to kill any infection.
Dr. Nitin K. Singh, lead author on the report, said:
Given the multi-drug resistance results for these [bacteria] and the increased chance of pathogenicity we have identified, these species potentially pose important health considerations for future missions.
However, researchers have stressed the bugs are not harmful to humans who are currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
According to The Sun, Dr. Singh stated:
It is important to understand that the strains found on the ISS were not virulent, which means they are not an active threat to human health, but something to be monitored.
While Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran, Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group, revealed how three of the strains belonged to species which caused illness in newborn babies.
The strange and out of this world (literally) bugs, are also said to have infected a ‘comprised patient’, which suggests they may have been suffering from a condition which made them susceptible to contamination of this strain.
Scientists will likely now try to perform further tests in order to decide how much of a threat the bacteria actually pose to astronauts.
In other space station news, the orbiting laboratory has just turned 20 years old (Tuesday November 20).
According to Business Insider, the ISS is now voluminous enough to fill a six-bedroom house. It’s the largest space vehicle ever built, and scientists have conducted more than 2,500 investigations there.
Since November 2000 – when NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko became the first humans to stay long-term on the ISS – more than 230 people have visited the $150 billion laboratory in space.
American astronaut Peggy Whitson was the first woman to command the ISS. Whitson retired in June and holds the US record for most time in space: 665 days.
Whitson told Business Insider she won’t miss the food, which is on a 16-day rotation cycle:
The motto ‘it’s all about the sauce’ really is true, because it all kinda starts tasting the same after a while.
It’s a very special experience to see the Earth from above. It gives you a new perspective on what home is.
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