We’ve all been there. Sat in the sun, about to devour a barbecued burger or sausage, when out of nowhere, a big ol’ fly floats past and decides to sit on your food of choice.
A lasagne left in the kitchen, an old kebab, a block of cheese left out lazily after making a sandwich, flies have no boundaries and will land and fondle with just about anything.
But what do you do when you see a hovering inch of infection lingering on something you had just planned on eating? (I won’t lie, I tend to flick it away and simply try and avoid eating where it landed).
However it’s safe to say it’s definitely a terrible, terrible idea – a new study has revealed flies carry much more disease than previously thought, according to Nanyang Technological University Press.
A team of researchers from Pennsylvania State University, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, have unearthed the fact flies’ legs are rife with countless different species of bacteria picked up from faeces and/or carcasses.
Professor Donald Bryant, of Penn State, said:
[The study] will really make you think twice about eating that potato salad that’s been sitting out at your next picnic.
We believe this may show a mechanism for pathogen transmission that has been overlooked by public health officials, and flies may contribute to the rapid transmission of pathogens in outbreak situations.
Apparently the bacteria permanently carried by flies is almost immediately transferred to the surfaces upon which they land spreading the dangerous microbes.
While it’s always been rather nasty eating food after a fly has landed on it, it has never been known as THIS dangerous – with anyone who does so, putting themselves at risk of a pretty grim disease.
Nanyang’s research director Stephan Schuster added:
The legs and wings show the highest microbial diversity in the fly body, suggesting bacteria use the flies as airborne shuttles. It may be that bacteria survive their journey, growing and spreading on a new surface.
The study itself investigated 116 houseflies and blowflies and found some of them can carry hundreds of different types of bacteria, harmful to humans.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.