65 Percent of the World’s Rivers Contaminated With Antibiotics

In times of growing drug resistance, a study finds hundreds of rivers to be contaminated with antibiotics.

Health News
1 min read
The findings are imperative in times of growing antibiotic resistance. 

As the world continues to battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a large-scale study finds over a hundred rivers concentrated with high levels of antibiotics, paving way for more resistance to medicines.

A report in The Guardian quotes Professor William Gaze, a microbial ecologist at the University of Exeter,

A lot of the resistance genes we see in human pathogens originated from environmental bacteria.

The research, presented at a conference in Helsinki, explains that the drugs enter the rivers and soil through waste disposal and leaks from wastewater treatment plants and drug manufacturing facilities.

After testing 711 sites in 72 countries, the researchers made the following observations:

  • 65 percent of them contained antibiotics.
  • In 111 of the sites, the concentration exceeded safe levels, wherein the worst ones had concentrations of more than 300 times over the safe limit.
  • Lower-income countries had higher levels, with Asia and Africa reported to have the maximum.
  • 35% of river sites tested in Africa exceeded safe limits for concentrations of antibiotics.

The findings have serious implications for the growing anti-microbial resistance crisis that the world faces today. Moreover, the impact on wildlife and environment cannot be understated, as could be seen in the case of some Kenyan rivers, where no fish could survive due to the contamination.

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