Sunday, May 15, 2011

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Drinking Water

A bacterial gene associated with resistance to antibiotics is turning up in water samples in New Delhi, India, including two of 50 public drinking-water samples and more than a quarter of all water samples drawn from water pools in streets or small streams.

Even more concerning is that the gene was identified in 11 different species of bacteria in which it had not been reported previously. What this means is that antibiotic-resistant bacteria typically found only in the human gut (such as E. coli) may be passing the gene on to other species of bacteria. Whether bacterial gene transfer is occurring in the human gut or after the resistant E. coli are released into the water supply isn’t certain at this point. But it does point to the development of widespread bacterial resistance to antibiotics through bacterial gene exchange, perhaps even in the environment.

The only good news here is that the researchers did not find the bacterial gene (yet!) in wastewater supplies in Cardiff, U.K. But it may only be a matter of time.

No comments: