Dissemination of Antibiotic Resistance Genes into natural environments and Wastewater Treatment Plants - Is there a link?
The misuse of antibiotics has led to the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB), which is of great concern to public health. Normally, wastewaters containing ARB originated from humans and animals are processed in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Although it has been demonstrated that most WWTPs effectively and efficiently remove harmful bacteria and antibiotics from sewage waters before their release into local natural environments, recent molecular-based studies have revealed the unexpected presence of high levels of clinically-relevant antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in treated waters. We are conducting a research of the literature to better understand the connections between operations in WWTPs and the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) into natural environments. Taking cases from different parts of the world, we are analyzing reports describing ARGs originally implicated in hospital infections, such as those encoding for extended spectrum beta lactamases (ESBL), and their fate in locations surrounding water treatment facilities. Also, we are reviewing the current understanding regarding risk management to limit the potential dissemination of ARGs to natural ecosystems via water treatment facilities. Preliminary results of these analyses will be presented.
* Indicates faculty mentor.