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article imageSurfers wanted to help with new study on superbugs in U.K.

By Karen Graham     Jun 10, 2015 in Health
"Beach Bums" is the first study of its kind to be carried out in the United Kingdom, and its a very important project. Researchers are looking into how seawater and marine pollution affects the human gut, and they need some volunteers.
Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School are are hoping to shed some light on how antibiotic resistance can be transferred to humans from the environment.
The study is a natural follow-up to a recently completed project that looked at the risk of exposure recreational users of the UK's coastal waters were exposed to from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, reported in Digital Journal on March 30, 2015, entitled, UK beaches being invaded by antibiotic-resistant bugs.
Whereas, in the previous study, seawater samples were collected, this study will require a more personal approach. The Beach Bums project is teaming researchers with the action group Surfers Against Sewage. Surfers and bodyboarders who take to the surf at least three times a month off the UK's coastal waters are asked to participate and bring a non-surfing friend to participate, as well. Volunteers will be asked to submit to a rectal swab sample.
Anne Leonard is the lead researcher and is from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at Exeter University. In a statement released on June 8, she said: "We know that surfers regularly swallow lots more seawater than other beach users - around 170 ml per session, which is more than ten times that of sea swimmers."
Citing the previous study, she added, We’ve already shown that this water may contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria but we have no idea how this might affect the microbes that live in our guts, or how it could impact upon health."
Andy Cummins, the campaigns director at Surfers Against Sewage adds, “Coastal waters can still be contaminated by sewage from both animals and humans, introducing billions of potentially harmful bacteria into the ocean environment."
Researchers are hoping to discover the impact on the gut of recreational seawater users while using a comparable group of non-recreational seawater users as a control group. The purpose is to see if and how antibiotic-resistant bacteria impact our gut's flora and the potential affects on health.
To participate, volunteers should register their details with Surfers Against Sewage [] and must live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. They will be provided with a Beach Bums kit to collect their samples and also asked to complete a short questionnaire. All data collected will be treated as strictly confidential.
More about superbug study, Surfers, body boarders, United Kingdom, rectal swabs
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