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Antibiotic resistance in European wastewater treatment plants mirrors the pattern of clinical antibiotic resistance prevalence

Antibiotic resistance in European wastewater treatment plants mirrors the pattern of clinical antibiotic resistance prevalence

Antibiotic resistance is among the greatest human health threats of this century. Wastewater treatment plants are receptors and sources of antibiotic resistance. A study recently published in Science Advances compares the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants in seven European countries: Finland, Norway, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus. This first trans-Europe surveillance shows that countries with higher clinical antibiotic resistance levels (e.g. Spain, Portugal, Cyprus) have more antibiotic resistance genes entering wastewater treatment plants. This north-to-south gradient is also evident in terms of antibiotic consumption: Finland, Norway, and Germany are known for their low antibiotic use while in Spain, Portugal, and Cyprus antibiotic consumption is higher. Environmental temperature was also identified as an important factor determining antibiotic resistance, which rises additional concern in a climate changes context.  The good news is that the most part of treatment plants were effective in removing antibiotic resistance genes. However, the relative abundance of a few clinically relevant genes increased in the final effluent and the north-to-south gradient of contamination remained after treatment. The study included researchers from seven countries, being coordinated by Universidade Católica Portuguesa. CESAM was represented by Isabel Henriques from the Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra.

Original article can be read here.

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