Scientists' new defense against E. coli isn't medicine -- it's dogs.
Researchers sent Border Collies to patrol stretches of beach along Lake Michigan to keep seagulls from landing on the sand. What seems like a fun exercise for the sheep dogs could actually help prevent the spread of E. coli infections from seagull droppings.
Birds are known to carry a plethora of diseases that can spread by someone simply inhaling their feces. So while you're laying out on the beach and unaware of any "leftovers" lying by your face you could be at risk.
The study at Lake Michigan proved to be successful. They found bacterial numbers were significantly lower where the dogs had patrolled over the summers of 2012 and 2013.
According to the BBC, high levels of E. coli have caused beach closures around the world. It also cited a recent report that showed roughly a third of bacteria samples taken from seagulls were resistant to more than one antibiotic.
Beaches in the U.S. have used trained animals like hawks and falcons to fend off seagulls for the same reason, but the gulls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and can't be harmed. This new study could provide a better option.
On the other hand, scientists are a bit worried about the risk of bacterial infection that could come from the dogs doing their business on the beach.