'Antibiotic-resistant bacteria evolve in waste water plants'

The genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics are found in abundance in waste water treatment plants and even in chlorinated water, a report published last month in reputed medical journal The Lancet said.

It said antibiotics-resistant bacteria are spread across the globe, including India.

Antibiotics resistance happens when bacteria evolve mechanisms to withstand drugs used to fight infections. 

The past few decades saw a huge jump in the use of antibiotics across medicine and agriculture. 

In the absence of regulatory controls, treatment guidelines and patient awareness, there has been a huge global surge in antibiotics resistance.

“Bacteria communicate well in huge tanks and exchange of genetic material is possible there. It then comes back to the community through stream water. They are also able to survive against chlorination of water,” Indian author of the report and chairperson of microbiology department at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital Dr Chand Wattal said.

The situation is worrying in India as the proportion of the disease-causing bacteria E. coli went up from 40 per cent in 2002 to 61 per cent in 2009, the report said. 

Urine tests of 1,815 pregnant women in India showed a very high increase in resistance of E. coli to major injectable antibiotics.

The authors called for development of strategies that focused on the control resistant genes such as in agriculture and waste water from the pharmaceutical industry. 

“One of our key recommendations is for increased research on how to reduce and neutralise man-made antibiotics pressure and how to control the resistance pool in hotspot environments,” Wattal said.

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