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article imageIs airplane sewage spreading antibiotic-resistant microbes?

By Tim Sandle     Dec 26, 2019 in Science
Examining sewage from five airports, microbiologists have found that 90 percent of 187 E. coli isolated were resistant to at least one antibiotic.
The data suggests that sewage from airplanes could be a major source of antimicrobial resistance, higher than other comparable areas. The data shows not only the presence of microbes with resistance to antimicrobials but also the genes that confer drug resistance.
This is based on an assessment of five German airports, (where around 90 percent isolates of Escherichia coli tested were found to be resistant to at least one antibiotic). These data can be contrasted with bacteria isolated from German wastewater treatment plants, where the antimicrobial resistance rates was found to be between 45 and 60 percent.
Furthermore, E. coli from airplane sewage was found to be more likely to be resistant to three or more antibiotics, compared with the examination of watewater. Bacterial contamination in water is typically measured using indicator organisms, notably Escherichia coli and Enterococci. The risk from sewage and waterwater is the transmission of antimicrobial resistant genes into the wider environment, spreading resistance further.
Antimicrobial resistance describes the ability of a microorganism to resist the action of antimicrobial drugs, and it is an issue of major global importance impacting on the ability of medical facilities to treat bacterial infections that were once more straightforward to tackle.
The experimental findings are published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The research paper is titled "Sewage from Airplanes Exhibits High Abundance and Diversity of Antibiotic Resistance Genes."
Commenting on the study, scientist Amy Pruden tells Science News: “This is really important work. You read it, and you think, ‘somebody should have done this sooner.’”
More about Microbiology, Antimicrobial, Sewage, Infection
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