October 20, 2018

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Hudson River

A study published in the Journal of Water and Health has found that the Hudson River in New York contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria from untreated sewage water. The bacteria are resistant to tetracycline and ampicillin and were detected at all 10 sampling sites along the river. This study was the first to document widespread distribution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Hudson River Estuary (HRE) and to demonstrate a link between the abundance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and levels of sewage-associated bacteria in an estuary.

Missouri RiverThe heaviest concentrations of these dangerous pathogens were in Yonkers and near La Guardia airport, where sewage water is being released into the river. About 27 billion gallons of waste water is released into the Hudson ever year. Hurricane Sandy may also have played a part in this issue, since heavy rains force treatment plants to send combined-sewer overflow (CSO) into rivers.

Another study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases found that antibiotic-resistant bacteria were found in 16 U.S. rivers at 22 sites. Selection for these organisms comes form natural production of antibiotics from soil organisms, runoff from animal feed or crops, and waste products. Public health officials recommend that no one swim in the Hudson River, or eat fish pulled from its waters. There are also problems with mercury, PCBs, dioxin, and cadmium in fish from the Hudson.

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