By Erin Elizabeth -
October 18, 2016
E. Coli Bacteria in Wastewater SamplesPublished in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal , scientists found that of 11 sites tested in France, 96 percent of wastewater samples contained antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli bacteria.
Applying this knowledge to other sites elsewhere, it can be assumed many of out water tanks are full of bacteria that have become resistant to the strongest antibiotics we have. Waste water from municipal treatment plants and hospitals, which are already known to be hotspots for superbugs are full of this dangerous bacteria.
Xavier Bertrand et al. from the University of Franche-Comte in Besancon, France, investigated the purity of wastewater, even after it has been treated, to look for superbugs. Water samples were collected from 11 sites throughout the Besancon wastewater network, two of which contained wastewater from university hospitals. Some rainwater and water from the city was also collected. Wastewater from livestock farming was not included in order to assess superbug prevalence in other water sources.
The shocking results were that every single sample tested contained some form of E.coli, and from these, 96 percent contained antibiotic-resistant forms of E. coli. The scientists were shocked to find out that the wastewater from the city had twice as many E.coli bacteria that that which came from hospitals.
Stated Bertrand about the results in an email to Reuters:
These multi-drug resistant bacteria are now the most frequently isolated ones in French hospitals, and in many countries. The extent to which the discharge of (antibiotic-resistant E. coli) into the environment contributes to its global spread remains uncertain.
Bacteria may actually be made worse by treating waterEven though wastewater that is treated and put back into the environment has a 94% success rate of killing the bacteria, scientists found that the remaining bacteria was actually made stronger. The proportion of antibiotic-resistant bacteria was found to have doubled as a result of the treatment.
“Initially, 0.3 percent of E. coli carried a gene for resistance, whereas 0.6 percent did after treatment,” wrote Allison Bond for Reuters.
The effects of this on humans is still not fully known however, microbiologist John Scott Meschke from the University of Washington in Seattle has stated that current water purification techniques are adequate for making water safe enough to drink, but that may not be the case.