Heavy metal pollution can increase antibiotic resistance in rivers

We want to publicise a recent publication in the journal Environmental Pollution on research by Newcastle University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi that quantified antibiotic and metal resistance in sediments from the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in India and streams in the River Tyne catchment. The results show heavy metals, which are high in the River Tyne catchment due to historic mining and industrial activity, relate to antibiotic resistance levels in the river. The same was seen in the Indian rivers, especially in areas of industrial activity. See the Newcastle University Press Release on this work here.

Professor Graham introduced the environmental dimensions of antibiotic resistance at the Annual Meeting of the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Interest Group on AMR on 17 May 2022.

One Water One Health

A special webinar is being held on March 24 at the 9th World Water Forum called “One Water One Health“. This event is being co-hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and examines “AMR in the Environment” from a One Health perspective, including transmission and spread in water systems.

“This session fosters awareness and multistakeholder dialogue that brings together the tripartite organisations namely the UN FAO, WHO, OIE, and UNEP with the government, the private sector, and experts from environment, health, and WASH sectors. The event presents an opportunity to understand the multitude of water and health linkages and antimicrobial resistance from a water environment perspective, specifically the scope of the problem, sources, drivers, transmissions mechanisms, and the implications to global water security and mitigation actions.”

The webinar is 08:00 to 09:00 GMT on Thursday, 24 March 2022. Registration here.

During the webinar, our own Prof David Graham is speaking about the role of the wider environment on antimicrobial resistance spread. Other contributors include Sasha Koo-Oshima (Land and Water Division, FAO); Sunita Narain (Centre for Science and Environment, Chair of the Global Leaders Group Environment Group); Joakim Larsson (University of Gothenburg, Sweden); Kate Medlicott (World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland); Marion Savill (Affordable Water Limited and Water, NZ Chapter of International Water Association (IWA), & IWA ASPIRE, New Zealand); Nigel French (Massey University & New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre); Omar El-Hassan (FAO) & Robert Bos (FAO). 

Sanitation’s role in reducing the spread of AMR

Read the interview that David Graham gave Health Europa on the vital role of sanitation in reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance by click here. Questions covered include:

  • How does a lack of access to clean water and sanitation increase the spread of AMR?
  • Can you explain how wastewater has been used as a tool to guide healthcare decisions during the pandemic?
  • What are the key challenges facing the healthcare sector in preventing the spread of AMR infection?
  • You and your colleagues have successfully trialled two new qPCR assays to detect transmissible AMR. Can you outline your DNA-based testing method and explain the benefits of this?
  • What steps should be taken at a policy level to avoid the worst-case scenario of 10 million annual deaths by 2050?

Public Webinar: Environmental Dimension of AMR under the One Health Agenda

Join the public webinar Environmental Dimension of AMR under the One Health Agenda in celebration of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week on Friday, 19 November 2021 from 8:00 to 11:00 GMT time via KouShare by clicking here.

This event is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme; the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences; the Alliance of International Science Organizations; and the Center for Environmental Engineering Research, The University of Hong Kong. The moderators are Prof. Yong-Guan Zhu and Prof. David Graham, with opening remarks by Prof. Jian Lui and Prof. Jinghua Coa and invited talks from Prof. Tong Zhang, Prof. Sabiha Essack, Dr. Rajeshwari Sinha, Prof. Ewa Korzeniewska, Dr. Chanwit Tribuddharat, and Dr. Mui-Choo Jong.

Download the programme here; please note the programme times are given in China Standard Time, which is 8 hours ahead of GMT, so adjust for your viewing location.

Will you ‘Go Blue’?

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is 18 to 24 November. Celebrated annually, WAAW aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers, and policymakers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections. The 2021 WAAW theme is ‘spread awareness, stop resistance’.

This year’s campaign encourages participants to spread awareness about what AMR is, share stories about its consequences, and demonstrate how the actions of individuals, families, professionals, and communities affect the spread of AMR. Find campaign materials and resources here, including the AMR and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Technical Brief that David Graham helped coauthor. Also checkout the Campaign Guidance here. Also, take a minute to share a comment with us on how you are ‘Going Blue’.

New Group Member: Rebeca Pallarés Vega

We are very happy to welcome Rebeca Pallarés Vega (Palencia, Spain) who has joined the GrahAM research group as a Research Assistant to study the dynamics of plasmid transfer in Indian rivers on our AMRflows project. Rebeca studied a BSc in Biology at the University of Salamanca (Spain) and then to pursued an MSc in Advances and Research in Microbiology at the University of Granada (Spain). During her MSc, Rebeca did an internship in 2015 at the water research centre, Wetsus, in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. This was when she became acquainted with antimicrobial resistance, and during her nine-month project, she studied resistant genetic profiles of bacteria isolated from hospital wastewater.

After completing her internship, Rebeca was granted a PhD position at TU Delft and Wetsus in collaboration with industrial stakeholders and water authorities. During her PhD, Rebeca focused on evaluating the presence and removal of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) in wastewater and biosolids. Her main goal was to identify the role of wastewater system design, operational parameters, and abiotic factors (i.e., rainfall) on ARG removal dynamics. Rebeca also studied different conditions that might influence the spread of ARGs through the conjugal transfer of plasmids using in vitro and in situ experimental set-ups at the University of Copenhagen with the group of Professor Søren Sørensen.

In 2020, Rebeca joined the EU2020 project REPARES on behalf of Wetsus. There, she worked in method standardization and transfer across the consortium partners. We are very happy for Rebeca to join our group because her background fits perfectly into AMRflows, but our other work, such as wastewater-based epidemiology.

Faecal pollution promotes the environmental spread of AMR in Central Thailand

We want to strongly commend the manuscript Environmental antimicrobial resistance is associated with faecal pollution in Central Thailand’s coastal aquaculture region recently released in the Journal of Hazardous Materials. It is from a very interesting project led by Professor David Werner, Newcastle University, which studied the main drivers of environmental AMR spread in Central Thailand using HT-qPCR and MinION NGS. The work was in collaboration with partners at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi in Thailand and the Institute of Urban Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The Graham Group contributed to the analysis and interpretation of AR gene data on the aquaculture ponds and local rivers, which corroborated that polluted rivers were contaminating the ponds, not the other way around. See more about on the clean water research being done by Professor Werner’s team on their blog. Additionally, see the Newcastle University’s press release about the work here.

Upcoming Talk on “AMR in wastewater – determinants and removal”

Prof David W Graham will be giving a public talk on AMR prevalence and monitoring in wastewater systems on 25 March 2021 is part the Wetsus REPARES network, supported by STOWA in the theme source separated sanitation. The Webinar starts at 15:30 (Netherlands) / 14:30 (UK) time and last about 90 minutes. This webinar is called “AMR in wastewater – determinants and removal” has three invited speakers, including David Graham, Dr Maarten Nederlof, and Rebeca Pallares Vega (soon to join our group in Newcastle). Drs Heike Schmitt and Lucia Hernandez will host the webinar. Talks are available online here.

Source tracking of antimicrobial resistance in emerging countries

Amelie Ott recently gave a webinar for the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) on ‘Source tracking of antimicrobial resistance in emerging countries’ with over 200 stakeholders registered for this event. Amelie talked about environmental antibiotic resistance in low-and-middle-income countries with a special focus on monitoring and modelling antibiotic resistance in South East Asian rivers. Amelie was invited to give this webinar after winning the student competition at the RSPH ‘What is the future of water in public health?’ conference in Sheffield, December 2019.