Who hasn’t brushed a fly off their food at a barbecue or picnic, or even in the house, then gone on tucking in?
You may quit being so blasé, though, after hearing what scientists have now discovered.
Researchers at Penn State University say that the insects carry much more dangerous bacteria than previously thought, and advise that food touched by a fly should not be eaten, even it if lighted on it for mere seconds..
Donald Bryant, a professor involved in the research, told The Telegraph that although most people knew flies carried bacteria, they largely had no idea how very much bacteria they spread. He said that public health officials also underestimated the amount of disease-causing bacteria that flies spread, so did not necessarily link disease outbreaks with fly-borne bacteria when they should.
“It will really make you think twice about eating that potato salad that’s been sitting out at your next picnic,” Bryant said of the research.
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How much bacteria, you ask? More than 600 different kinds, many of which are linked with tummy bugs, stomach ulcers, pneumonia and blood poisoning, the BBC explained.
In a report called The microbiomes of blowflies and houseflies as bacterial transmission reservoirs, the scientists tested 116 flies – both blowflies and houseflies – across three continents, in rural, urban and natural settings.
They found that flies in urban areas carried more bacteria than those in the countryside, which means that if you’re planning a picnic, it’s best to head out of town. In fact, flies that came from stables containing pigs and other animals carried less bacteria than those from the emergency entrance of a city hospital, as well those from an outdoor food court.
Flies are airborne bacteria missiles because they live on faeces and decaying matter, which they need to feed their babies. The poop and decaying bits stick all over the flies’ bodies, particularly to their legs, which they then transmit to whatever it is they subsequently touch, even for the tiniest period of time.
Do you wield the insect spray at the first sight of a fly, or do you figure a little bit of bacteria is good for the immune system?