The International Space Station is infested with mysterious space bugs that may be leaving astronauts at risk of “serious harm,” according to a new study.
Scientists discovered a thriving ecosystem of “infectious organisms” aboard the station, some of which are similar to bugs found in hospitals on Earth, and some may be alien to our planet.
A NASA team found five different varieties of Enterobacter, with researchers calculating that there is a “79 percent probability that they may potentially cause disease.”
The toilet onboard the orbiting space station was listed as one of the main sites of infection alongside the base’s exercise area.
It’s feared portions of the bacteria could be drug-resistant which would leave astronauts at risk of serious harm should traditional treatments fail to help.
Dr. Nitin Singh, the lead author on the report, said: “Given the multi-drug resistance results for these [bacteria] and the increased chance of pathogenicity we have identified, these species potentially pose important health considerations for future missions.”
But, researchers stressed the bugs are not harmful to humans currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Singh added: “It is important to understand that the strains found on the ISS were not virulent, which means they are not an active threat to human health, but something to be monitored.”
Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran, a microbiologist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, revealed that three of the strains belonged to a species which caused illness in newborn babies.
The mysterious bugs also infected a “comprised patient,” which suggests they may have been suffering from a condition that made them susceptible to contamination.