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Georgia Southern Looks at Presence of Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria in Treated Wastewater Used for Irrigation

Water reuse is becoming an alternative source for communities experiencing severe water scarcity. One public health concern with water reuse is the introduction of unregulated contaminants to the environment that cannot be easily removed by conventional wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). The occurrence of antibiotic-resistant Escherichia colithrough the treatment stages of a WWTP (raw sewage, post-secondary, post-UV and post-chlorination) was investigated. The highest concentrations of antibiotic resistant E. coli in the effluent were detected after heavy rainfall. Ampicillin-resistant E. coli was the most common at the post UV and chlorination stages comprising 63 percent of the total E. coli population. Also, one in five isolates was resistant to three or more antibiotics, and the majority of these E. coli were resistant to ampicillin, followed by sulfamethoxazole and ciprofloxacin. The highest resistance was detected at the finished water after application of multiple disinfection methods. Currently, there are no policies to enforce the monitoring of antibiotic-resistant pathogen removal in wastewater treatment. Better guidelines are needed to regulate reuse water and prevent health risk upon exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Presence of Antibiotic-Resistant Escherichia coli in Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluents Utilized as Water Reuse for Irrigation” was recently published in Water Journal.

Authors are Dr. Asli Aslan, assistant professor, department of biostatistics, epidemiology, and environmental health sciences, Georgia Southern University Jiann-Ping Hsu Collage of Public Health (JPHCOPH), and students of JPHCOPH, Mr. Zachariah Cole, Mr. Anunay Bhattacharya and Mr. Oghenekpaobor Oyibo.

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Posted in Department News, JPHCOPH