Washington, Dec 11: Water discharged into lakes and rivers by sewage treatment plants may contain genes that help create resistant superbugs, warn researchers.
Timothy M. LaPara, associate professor in environmental engineering at the University of Minnesota and colleagues, say superbugs are abundant in the sewage that enters municipal wastewater treatment plants.
Treatment is intended to kill the bacteria, and it removes many of the bacterial genes that cause antibiotic resistance, the journal Environmental Science & Technology reported, citing a varsity statement.
However, genes or bacteria may be released in effluents from such municipal wastewater plants.
Accordingly, scientists studied releases of those genes at the Duluth facility.
Sampling of wastewater at 13 locations detected three genes, for instance, that make bacteria resistant to the tetracycline group of antibiotics, which are used to treat conditions ranging from acne to sexually transmitted diseases to anthrax and bubonic plague.
LaPara’s team says their research demonstrates that even the most high-tech sewage treatment plants may be significant sources of antibiotic resistance genes in waterways.