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Antibiotic resistant bacteria

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:42 pm
by TechnoEngineer
They found many more bacteria resistant to a class of clinically-important antibiotics called third-generation cephalosporins (3GC) in downstream water.

These drugs are broad-spectrum antibiotics used to treat a whole range of problems, including meningitis, septicaemia, and so-called hospital-acquired infections.

Most worryingly, the scientists found that 3GC-resistant E. coli were seven times more common downstream of a UK sewage plant than upstream.

'Our findings suggest that resistance is spreading, because of a gene called blaCTX-M-15. This gene is carried on a mobile genetic element called a plasmid. Bacteria collect these genes to allow them to adapt to their environment,' says Wellington.

'This is a big deal, because this is the most common bacterial antibiotic resistance gene causing failures in treatment of infections, and it's the first time anyone has seen this gene in UK rivers. The problem is we're use river water to irrigate crops, people swim or canoe in rivers, and both wildlife and food animals come into contact with river water.'

'These bacteria also spread during flooding. And with more flooding and heavy rain, this could get worse.'

A previous study found that a third of people swimming in areas of the River Thames come down with some kind of stomach bug, highlighting the threat to human health posed by rivers. 'You really run the risk of getting gastroenteritis,' added Wellington.

As well as finding antibiotic-resistant bacteria downstream of the sewage plant, Wellington and her colleagues found E. coli which has become resistant to a less commonly used antibiotic called imipenem in the same region of the river - the first time such bacteria have been found in the wild.
Full article here: ... eConsent=A

Re: Antibiotic resistant bacteria

Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:57 pm
by MikeRoberts
Well that's pretty terrifying! I had a major infection in my leg about this time last year, I lost all feeling below my knee in 24 hours.. imagine if that had been resistant to antibiotics..

Finding new antibiotics is probably going to be a major "arms race" over the next 10-20 years. The only way to prevent the increase of the amounts of the gene, is to reduce antibiotic use ; sadly reducing the widespread use of antibiotics is going to be incredibly difficult.

The gene will also exponentially grow in prevalence, as works with any bacterial mutation.

Re: Antibiotic resistant bacteria

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:15 pm
by Murray carp
Trying to control the improper use of antibiotics is indeed an issue, but the hunt for new antibiotics for resistant organisms is very slow as the drug companies don't make much money from the newer classes of antibiotics because although they are expensive, they don't get used enough to make the research worthwhile

Re: Antibiotic resistant bacteria

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:57 pm
by Jim
I wonder if the 'stomach bug' I got the other day could be related to my little play session on the Windrush a couple of days before - lots of swimming involved.... I figured it looked like a nice clean stream so it was more likely something I ate.

It's not really anything new though is it? Bacteria reproduce so quickly it is possible to witness evolution of resistant strains over a few months or years. Would the process be slower if we reserved antibiotics for life-threatening conditions? Maybe. I've only ever had 2 courses and neither were for anything life threatening (well I suppose the lung infection due to busted ribs could have escalated), I would probably have survived both given more time to develop antibodies of my own. By exposing the bacterial population to the antibiotics we give them a chance to reconize the enemy and evolve to beat them, right?

Re: Antibiotic resistant bacteria

Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:12 pm
by TechnoEngineer
What I believe has changed Jim is the routine use of antibiotics in farming.

Re: Antibiotic resistant bacteria

Posted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:24 pm
by ion
What happens if we do nothing? "That's easy," says Green. "I remember kayaking near Crossness just after a major storm. I was kayaking on shit, if you'll excuse the phrase. That's what the rest of the Thames will be like if we do nothing."
Delightful. ... ?CMP=fb_gu

Re: Antibiotic resistant bacteria

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:38 am
by Wildswimmer Pete
I'd suggest that excessive hygiene could be part of the problem. This obsession with cleanliness is leading to young children not having their developing immune systems challenged, with the consequences we see today. As a tadpole in the 1950s together with other kids of my generation, I played in the raw sewage that then passed off as Liverpool Bay seawater (it isn't now ;-) ) and as a result I rarely get any infection. The relatively weakened immune systems of the current generation allow pathogenic bacteria to gain a hold whereas someone from my generation would throw off the infection, often with no clinical signs of the infection.

My GP is very reluctant to prescribe antibiotics for the reasons given in previous posts in this thread. What is needed is to educate the public that most "nuisance" infections like colds, 'flu and noro (bad guts) are viral infections and antibiotics are ineffective against viruses.

Please excuse my grammar - it's still not very good.

Wildswimmer Pete