Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been isolated in specific spots along the Hudson river, from the Tappan Zee Bridge to lower Manhattan. The cause is linked to raw sewage being pumped into the water.
Specifically, the bacteria that are resistant to many drugs are most prevalent near the sewage pipes at 125th St., and in industrial areas such as Newtown Creek and Flushing Bay, according to the New York Daily News. In relation to the microorganisms, the types identified are resistant to ampicillin and tetracycline. These are drugs commonly used to treat ear infections, pneumonia, salmonella and other ailments.
The types of bacteria isolated were pathogenic strains of Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, Proteus and Escherichia. Such organisms would present a risk to someone with a compromised immune system.
The cause is linked to raw sewage. According to the research team: "This study is the first to document the widespread distribution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the HRE [Hudson River Estuary] and to demonstrate clearly a link between the abundance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and levels of sewage-associated bacteria in an estuary,"
According to a research note from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, studies of the Hudson have shown that microbial counts increase after heavy rains, which is a time when raw sewage is diverted into the river. Some 27 billion gallons of raw sewage and rainwater are released into the Hudson each year by wastewater treatment plants. Lacking the capacity during heavy rains to simultaneously pump runoff from city streets and sewage from buildings, many sewage-treatment plants are forced to divert both streams into the river, in what is known as a combined-sewer overflow. This means that the Hudson is not the best environment to take a swim in.
The findings have been published in the journal Journal of Water and Health. The paper is titled "Antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Hudson River Estuary linked to wet weather sewage contamination."