Prevalence and characteristics of ESBL-producing E. coli in Dutch recreational waters influenced by wastewater treatment plants.

Research paper by Hetty H Blaak, Patrick P de Kruijf, Raditijo A RA Hamidjaja, Angela H A M AH van Hoek, Ana Maria AM de Roda Husman, Franciska M FM Schets

Indexed on: 03 Apr '14Published on: 03 Apr '14Published in: Veterinary Microbiology


Outside health care settings, people may acquire ESBL-producing bacteria through different exposure routes, including contact with human or animal carriers or consumption of contaminated food. However, contact with faecally contaminated surface water may also represent a possible exposure route. The current study investigated the prevalence and characteristics of ESBL-producing Escherichia coli in four Dutch recreational waters and the possible role of nearby waste water treatment plants (WWTP) as contamination source. Isolates from recreational waters were compared with isolates from WWTP effluents, from surface water upstream of the WWTPs, at WWTP discharge points, and in connecting water bodies not influenced by the studied WWTPs. ESBL-producing E. coli were detected in all four recreational waters, with an average concentration of 1.3 colony forming units/100ml, and in 62% of all samples. In surface waters not influenced by the studied WWTPs, ESBL-producing E. coli were detected in similar concentrations, indicating the existence of additional ESBL-E. coli contamination sources. Isolates with identical ESBL-genes, phylogenetic background, antibiotic resistance profiles, and sequence type, were obtained from effluent and different surface water sites in the same watershed, on the same day; occasionally this included isolates from recreational waters. Recreational waters were identified as a potential exposure source of ESBL-producing E. coli. WWTPs were shown to contribute to the presence of these bacteria in surface waters, but other (yet unidentified) sources likely co-contribute.

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