Monday, 27 May 2019

Rivers of Resistance?

It has been reported that many of the world's rivers contain 'dangerous' levels of antibiotics as they could act as culture vessels for the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/may/27/worlds-rivers-awash-with-dangerous-levels-of-antibiotics). These bacteria are the ones that survive exposure to the antibiotics and are already raising the possibility of our returning to a pre-antibiotic era where we have no effective treatments for even minor infections. The trouble is compounded by the tendency of bacteria (rapidly evolving organisms, because of their frequency of division) to pass on resistance to other species of bacteria by trading plasmids. Although over-prescription of these medical treatments is one contribution to the development of antibiotic -resistant bacteria (like MRSA), another well-established factor is the use of these agents to increase growth (and profits) in intensively farmed animals. It seems likely, to me, that most of the antibiotics recorded in the rivers results from untreated water leaving farms. 

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