New Delhi: A new headache has mounted for NASA’s Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams and the eight other crew members on board the International Space Station (ISS) including those who are currently inhabiting the orbiting station. A superbug lurks inside the city in space the International Space Station.

Scientists have found a multi-drug resistant bacteria named ‘Enterobacter bugandensis’ which has evolved and become more potent in the closed environment of the ISS. Since it is multi-drug resistant, it is often called a ‘superbug’. This bacteria infects the respiratory system.

Spacebugs are not extra-terrestrial life but bugs that have travelled as hidden as hidden co-passengers when they went to work at the ISS.

Ms Williams and her colleague Astronaut Barry Eugene “Butch” Wilmore reached the ISS on board the new Boeing Starliner spacecraft on June 6, 2024, and are likely to spend over a week in the low earth orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth after having tested the new spacecraft she helped design.

The seven other crew members have been living on the ISS for a longer period. Usually, the worry at the ISS is from flying space debris and micrometeorites but bugs that have been carried as co-travellers and now evolved over the last 24 years of continuous inhabitation of the space station are a big new worry.

Writing about the superbugs recently, NASA said strains of the bacterial species E. bugandensis isolated from the International Space Station (ISS) were studied. Thirteen strains of E. bugandensis, a bacterium notorious for being multi-drug resistant, were isolated from the ISS.

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