'Spacebug' Detected On International Space Station: Health Problem For Sunita Williams And Others?

A space bug has been detected on the International Space Station (ISS) and may cause problems for astronauts, such as Sunita Williams, NASA's Indian-origin astronaut, and crew. A multi-drug resistant bacteria named 'Enterobacter Bugandensis' has been found, which has evolved and become more potent in the closed environment of the ISS.
?Is The New 'Spacebug' Detected On International Space Station A Health Problem For Sunita Williams And Other Astronauts?

Is The New 'Spacebug' Detected On International Space Station A Health Problem For Sunita Williams And Other Astronauts?

A space bug has been detected on the International Space Station (ISS) and may cause problems for astronauts, such as Sunita Williams, NASA's Indian-origin astronaut, and crew. A multi-drug resistant bacteria named 'Enterobacter Bugandensis' has been found, which has evolved and become more potent in the closed environment of the ISS.
"In a new scientific paper funded by an Ames Space Biology grant, Principal Investigator Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory strains of the bacterial species Enterobacter bugandensis isolated from the International Space Station (ISS) were studied," NASA's website said.
Williams and her colleague Barry Eugene "Butch" Wilmore reached the ISS on the new Boeing Starliner spacecraft on June 6, 2024. They are expected to spend over a week there before returning to Earth. Other astronauts also spend longer durations at the ISS. Given the limited availability of health facilities, the discovery raises questions pertaining to the health of astronauts travelling to the space station.
Research findings showed that the ISS-isolated strains of the bacterial species E. Bugandensis had become genetically and functionally distinct from its earth counterparts.
According to the NASA website, "Thirteen strains of E. bugandensis, a bacterium notorious for being multi-drug resistant, were isolated from the ISS. Study findings indicate under stress, the ISS isolated strains were mutated and became genetically and functionally distinct compared to their Earth counterparts".
"The strains were able to viably persist in the ISS over time with a significant abundance. E. bugandensis coexisted with multiple other microorganisms, and in some cases could have helped those organisms survive," the website added.
The environment of the ISS, being extremely different from earth, leads to unique health challenges for astronauts. Therefore, studying microbes on-board the space station is of supreme importance to the well-being of astronauts and the planning of future space missions.
According to BioSpectrum India, Dr Kasthuri Venkateswaran, Senior Research Scientist at JPL, NASA, said, "Our research uncovers how certain benign microorganisms help to adapt and survive opportunistic human pathogen, E. Bugandensis, in the unfavourable conditions of the International Space Station."
Dr Venkateswaran further explained what the implications of this study would be for the health of astronauts.
"The knowledge gained from this study would shed light on microbial behaviour, adaptation, and evolution in extreme, isolated environments that allow in designing novel countermeasure strategies to eradicate opportunistic pathogens, thus protecting the health of astronauts," he said.
End of Article
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