Researchers have discovered increasing populations of bacteria with multiple resistance to antibiotics in waste water treatment plants. They found the so-called superbugs-bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics-up to 100 yards downstream from the discharge point into the Huron River.
Xi and colleagues found that while the total number of bacteria left in the final discharge effluent declined dramatically after treatment, the remaining bacteria was significantly more likely to resist multiple antibiotics than bacteria in water samples upstream. Some strains resisted as many as seven of eight antibiotics tested. The bacteria in samples taken 100 yards downstream also were more likely to resist multiple drugs than bacteria upstream.
Xi said the problem isn’t that treatment plants don’t do a good job of cleaning the water-it’s that they simply aren’t equipped to remove all antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals entering the treatment plants.