Polar Bears and "Superbugs"

One of the more terrifying problems of modern medicine is the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of "superbugs." And one of the central questions of the issue is where they come from. Are these bugs already present in the wild or is it a natural evolutionary reaction to the widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture? Researchers in Norway decided to find out by seeking out and testing an animal that have very little contact with humans: polar bears.

From the story on Sciencedaily.com:

Scientists investigating the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs have gone the extra mile for their research -- all the way to the Arctic. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Microbiology found little sign of the microbes in the droppings of polar bears that have had limited or no contact with humans, suggesting that the spread of antibiotic resistance genes seen in other animals may be the result of human influence.

But here's where it gets interesting...

Trine Glad, from the University of Tromsø, Norway, led a study that examined feces samples from five polar bears and rectal swabs from another five polar bears between 2004 and 2006.

Polar bear rectal swabs? Imagine you're a polar bear minding your own business, cruising the ice shelf looking for a seal when suddenly you get chased down, darted in the rump and then violated in the worst possible way. That's just wrong, man. And they say hunting's inhumane...