budapest danube boat

The concentration level of antibiotics used in animal husbandry is much higher than the permitted, which can cause serious problems.

More antibiotics – more resistant strains of bacteria

According to a global study done in the issue, the concentration level of antibiotics in many of the world’s biggest rivers exceeds the threshold – reported. A team of experts analysed the water in 72 countries and 711 places and detected such materials in 2/3rd of the test sites. In fact, antibiotics are essential in curing bacterial infections. However, their overuse can result in

more and more resistant strains

which, finally, may cause a global health emergency situation.

Antibiotics are not only used to heal humans but they are also critical in the animal husbandry, so they can easily get out into the rivers, for example, if wastewater and fertilisers are not treated properly.

If the concentration level of more kinds of antibiotics is constantly high in a river, the chance for evolving new and more resistant bacteria strains is much higher. This is because such drugs demolish all kinds of bacteria that do not possess resistant genes. The latter are less viable in a normal environment; thus, there are not many of them. However, if there are many kinds of

antibiotics destroying their competitors they can multiply very quickly.

The same happens in the case of fungicides.

Even the Thames is polluted badly

A lot of the resistance genes we see in human pathogens originated from environmental bacteria” – Prof William Gaze, a microbial ecologist at the University of Exeter who studies antimicrobial resistance but was not involved in the study, said to The Guardian. The paper highlighted that, according to the United Nations, the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a global health emergency that could kill 10 million people by 2050.

According to the study presented in Helsinki (Finland) on a conference on Monday, river Danube, Europe’s second largest stream is the most polluted in the continent. This is because samples taken from the river’s Austrian section contained seven antibiotics including clarithromycin used to treat respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Their concentration

exceeded nearly four times the level considered safe. 

This is surprising because only 8 pc of the test sites in Europe were above safe limits. This rate was 6 pc in Oceania, 15 pc in North-America, 18 pc in South-America, 23 pc in Asia and 35 pc in Africa.

According to The Guardian, the Thames, which is regarded as one of Europe’s cleanest rivers was also contaminated, along with some of its tributaries, by a mixture of five antibiotics including ciprofloxacin, a drug treating infections of the skin and urinary tract, which peaked at more than three times safe levels.

The researchers tested 711 sites in 72 countries and found antibiotics in 65% of them. In 111 of the sites, the concentrations of antibiotics exceeded safe levels, with the worst cases

more than 300 times over the safe limit.

This was in Bangladesh where metronidazole, a drug for treating vaginal infections, was found at more than 300 times above the safe level.

Source:, The Guardian

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