Kochi

‘Sewage in city housing wide range of antimicrobial resistant bacteria’

Under scrutiny: The Kerala Water Authority’s sewage treatment plant at Elamkulam.

Under scrutiny: The Kerala Water Authority’s sewage treatment plant at Elamkulam.  

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Analysis carried out at Technical University of Denmark; Kochi the only Indian city that took part

In a global analysis, sewage samples from the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Elamkulam, Kochi, was found housing a wide range of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

The results of the analysis were published in the journal Nature Communications and released recently.

First attempt

Urban sewage was collected from 79 sample locations, covering seven geographical regions, from 74 cities in 60 countries for analysis. The researchers claimed that it was the first attempt to monitor and predict the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the global, predominantly-healthy population.

Kochi was the only Indian city that participated in the programme. A team of researchers from the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), led by Abdulla Mohamed Hatha, partnered in the analysis.

The samples from Kochi were found hosting a wide variety of antimicrobial resistant bacteria including the ones resistant to beta-lactam, aminoglycosides, quinolones, colistin, tetracycline, trimethoprim, sulfonamides, penicillin, phenicols and nitroimidazole, in the analysis carried out at the National Food Institute of the Technical University of Denmark.

Urban sewage was considered for the analysis as it provided sampling material from a large and mostly healthy population, which otherwise would not be feasible to monitor, noted the researchers.

Treatment may be hit

Once pathogens with a wide range of AMR entered the human system through food and other sources, it would seriously compromise treatment strategies, said Dr. Hatha.

Two sets of one-litre samples each were collected from the STP and sent for analysis in 2016. Two mores sets were collected in 2017 and 2018 during June and November. The results of the analysis were awaited, said Dr. Hatha.

Incidentally, less than 5% of the city area is covered by sewage system. The only septage treatment plant in the city, located at the Brahmapuram campus of the solid waste treatment facility of the Kochi Corporation, can process one lakh liters a day.

There have been several instances of dumping of septage and other liquid waste in the water bodies and open spaces in the city, leading to health hazards and even law and order issues.

Besides the high prevalence of AMR genes in the samples, diversity of AMR genes, the genes conferring resistance to different classes of antibiotics, was also very high among the Kochi samples as in other Asian countries, he said.

The AMR, noted the paper, is a “cross-cutting and increasing threat to global health and it threatens to undermine decades of progress in the treatment of infectious diseases”.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 9:55:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/sewage-in-city-housing-wide-range-of-antimicrobial-resistant-bacteria/article26515772.ece

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