Sunday 22 July 2018

Bacteria invade even our remotest lakes

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

ANTIBIOTIC resistant bacteria have infiltrated our remotest lakes and can also be found in our drinking water.

A study of our aquatic system has found the resistant bacteria has spread to almost all the country's waterways.

The study also found that hospitals are pumping waste water into the municipal waste system, which contains not only infection-resistant bacteria but also antibiotic drugs.

The research was carried out by Sandra Galvin a microbiologist at NUI Galway.

Ms Galvin took samples from the country's lakes and rivers and discovered that bacteria, resistant to synthetic antibiotics have infiltrated almost all the country's waterways.

"What we found was that even in lakes that were extremely remote, we were able to find antibiotic resistant E-coli surviving," she said.

"That's almost a direct man-made association, because ciprofloxacin is a synthetic antibiotic which is used in the hospital and primary care system," said Ms Galvin.


The study also looked at three separate ground water supplies for drinking water and found the same bacteria and a resistant strain of E-coli coming through drinking water taps and reduced ability for a hospital to help fight the infection.

"If you have an E-coli that is resistant, you are limited to one, maybe two options if your lucky," she said.

The study also proved that resistant bacteria survived secondary-waste water treatment and was pumped into the sea.

Taking samples of effluent from Galway hospital, Ms Galvin discovered that it contained a significant amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

It also contained low concentrations of the antibiotic drug Trimethoprim, which is primarily used in the treatment of urinary tract infections.

"In the hospital effluent, we did find a significant proportion of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

"One of the big recommendations that came out of my study was that hospital effluent should ideally be treated on site before joining the rest of the municipal waste system – but that isn't happening," she added.

Irish Independent

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