Microbial Monitoring and the Risk of Infectious Disease Aboard the International Space StationThe International Space Station (ISS) is a semi-closed habitat in low Earth orbit with environmental conditions provided by an advanced life support system that controls temperature and recycles air and most of the potable water. The crew's activities, such as eating, sleeping, hygiene, and laboratory research, are performed in relatively close proximity. Research in the laboratory includes a myriad of experiments, including those with rodents, plants, and pathogenic microorganisms. Despite these conditions, in-flight monitoring of ISS indicates that the microbial diversity is similar to homes on earth. Accordingly, the crew is generally very healthy, however infectious disease does occur and potential routes of infection by obligate and opportunistic pathogens cannot be completely prevented. Determining the extent of this risk is further complicated, as microorganisms can alter their characteristics in response to spaceflight culture, as exemplified by the increase in virulence of the enteric pathogen Salmonella enterica Typhimurium during spaceflight compared to otherwise identical cultures grown on Earth. Taken together, these factors suggest a need for continued microbiological monitoring and research to understand and mitigate the risk of infectious disease during long duration missions.
Ott, C. Mark (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
October 9, 2018
July 15, 2018
Life Sciences (General)
Meeting: Gordon Research Conference on the Microbiology of the Built Environment