Increase in bacteria linked to gastroenteritis in humans in UK waters

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New research has found that rising temperatures in UK waters are causing an uptick in bacteria linked to gastroenteritis in humans.

Various strains of potentially harmful Vibrio bacteria have increased.

The researchers, led by academics from the University of Exeter, also found two strains, Vibrio rotiferianus and Vibrio jassicida, that had never been previously recorded in the shallow waters of the UK.

Because shellfish are filter feeders, levels of the pathogen can build up in significantly higher concentrations in their tissues than in the surrounding water.

Vibrio bacteria have been linked to mass die-offs in wild and farmed oysters, and can cause gastroenteritis in humans if raw or undercooked shellfish are consumed.

A previously known strain of Vibrio bacteria was found in Chichester Harbor (Flora Thompson/PA). , PA collection

Vibrio can cause skin infections if the bacteria enter the body through cuts and abrasions.

The researchers found that there has been an increase in vibriosis infections in humans and aquatic animals in recent years.

Dr Sarika Wagle, from the University of Exeter, said: “Vibrio species can often be found in UK waters in the summer, when temperatures are more favorable for them.

“With the increase in sea surface temperatures due to climate change, Vibrio activity in water is more common, and the diversity of Vibrio species is now increasing.”

The research team used Met Office data to find locations where sea surface temperatures were reaching between 13C and 22C, which are favorable for the growth of various Vibrio species.

They then analyzed samples from four shellfish farms located in these areas, namely Chichester Harbor, Oceania Island Whitstable Bay and Lime Bay.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus, the most common cause of seafood-borne gastroenteritis worldwide, was found in Chichester Harbor.

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