Antibiotics Creating "Bacterial Monsters"

A Great White shark. (Photo: Hermanusbackpackers/Creative Commons)
Jun 24, 2010· 0 MIN READ

The next time you’re contemplating flushing your prescription medication down the toilet, you may want to consider the “bacterial monsters” they have the potential to spawn.

A study published in this month’s Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine suggests that disposed antibiotics may be facilitating the evolution and proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria in sharks.

According to professor of veterinary clinical medicine Mark Mitchell, who found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in seven species of shark, “Bacteria exposed to the drugs develop resistance,” so “we have the risk of creating these bacterial monsters."

But aside from the sci-fi scare factor, these antibiotic-resistant bacteria carry very real risks–for sea creatures and humans alike.

In addition to causing illnesses in sharks and fish, these bacteria may also find their way back into the human food chain. Since humans eat crab, shrimp, and other fish that sharks also consume and may be exposed to, people may run the risk of eating creatures in contact with the antibiotic-resistant drugs.

(Photo: Hermanusbackpackers/Creative Commons via Flickr)

Quick Study: Ocean Pollution

Related Stories: CITES Still Shy on Shark Protection | Shark Weak: U.N. Treaty Aims to Protect Endangered Shark Species