The effects of tertiary wastewater treatment on the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria

L. Guardabassi, Danilo Lo Fo Wong, A. Dalsgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The effects of tertiary wastewater treatment on the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria were investigated in two large-scale municipal treatment plants during a period of six months. Total and relative numbers of resistant bacteria were determined in raw sewage, treated sewage and anaerobically digested sludge by bacteriological counts on media selective for coliforms (MacConkey agar) and Acinetobacter spp. (Baumann agar). In addition, the level of antimicrobial susceptibility was determined by the disc-diffusion method in 442 Acinetobacter isolates identified by colony hybridisation with a genus-specific DNA probe. Independent of the different antibiotics and media used, the total numbers of resistant bacteria in treated sewage were 10-1000 times lower than in raw sewage. Based on linear regression analysis of data on bacteriological counts, the prevalences of antimicrobial-resistant presumptive coliforms and Acinetobacter spp. in treated sewage and digested sludge were not significantly higher compared with raw sewage. On the contrary at one plant, statistically significant decreases were observed in the prevalence of ampicillin-resistant presumptive Acinetobacter spp. (p = 0.0188) following sewage treatment, and in the prevalence of either ampicillin-resistant presumptive Acinetobacter spp. (p = 0.0013) or ampicillin- and gentamicin-resistant presumptive coliforms (p = 0.0273 and p = 0.0186) following sludge treatment. The results obtained by bacteriological counts were confirmed by antimicrobial susceptibility testing of Acinetobacter isolates. Based on logistic regression analysis, isolates from treated sewage and digested sludge were generally not significantly more resistant compared with isolates from raw sewage. Based on these evidences, it was concluded that tertiary wastewater treatment did not result in a selection of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Volume36
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1955-1964
ISSN0043-1354
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • coliforms
  • Acinetobacter
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • wastewater treatment

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