Pilgrims shed dangerous microbes in Ganga exposing millions: Report

Pilgrims shed dangerous microbes in Ganga exposing millions: Report

 Indian pilgrims shed a dangerous antibiotic-resistant microbe in the Ganga at Haridwar and Rishikesh, exposing millions downstream to the super-bug.

In May-June, when the two pilgrimage towns receive millions of devotees from all over the country, the level of the super bug in the Ganga goes up by 20 times compared to the level seen in February, where there are not too many devotees, says a new research.

The super bug monitored by a team of researchers from the UK and India is NDM-1 that made headlines three years ago, after it was reported from India. The microbe carries a gene, which makes it resistant to the most potent antibiotic, carbapenem.

The super bug was first found in the hospitals of 11 Indian cities in 2010 and subsequently in public water system in Delhi a year later.

The antibiotic-resistant gene was found to have spread to several new species including those germs causing dysentery and cholera. Union Health Ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research, however, claimed that NDM-1 super bug was not a public health threat.
The new study by researchers at the University of Newcastle and University of Strathclyde in the UK and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi suggests pilgrimage areas like Haridwar and Rishikesh are possible hot-spots of antibiotic resistance transmission.

This happens primarily due to the absence of adequate waste treatment facilities as a result of which untreated human waste is released into the river water. The team collected samples from 7 sites from the upper reaches of Ganga in Haridwar-Rishikesh and 5 sites in Yamuna in Delhi. Samples were collected in February and June for comparison and water quality was checked besides looking for the super bugs.

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