FORT PIERCE – There is an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Indian River Lagoon according to a new study released by FAU Harbor Branch scientists.
A check of water samples taken over the past year there indicates a sizable increase in bacteria, according the the study.
Water testing has taken place where Taylor Creek feeds into the lagoon as well as near the FAU Harbor Branch campus.
Both agricultural and urban runoff have contributed to higher bacteria levels in the Taylor Creek samples, according to scientists.
FAU Harbor Branch says that antibiotics are used extensively in medicine to prevent infections in humans and animals as well as in agriculture to promote the growth of livestock.
Scientists have found that antibiotics are being released into the environment and have been detected in waste water, surface water, ground water and sediments.
FAU Harbor Branch says that the antibiotics in the environment are contributing to the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
HARBOR BRANCH NEWS RELEASE
FORT PIERCE, Fla. (August 12, 2013) – Preliminary research from FAU Harbor Branch scientists has uncovered an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Indian River Lagoon. The study compared water samples taken from two locations in the lagoon in June 2011, 2012 and 2013. Data indicates a sizeable increase in the amount of bacteria present this year as compared to the two years prior.
“It is important to remember that these findings are preliminary,” said Peter McCarthy, Ph.D., an FAU Harbor Branch research professor who oversees the study. “Our goal is to continue to pursue this work, but funding will play a critical role in our ability to do so.”
The testing sites included where Taylor Creek feeds into the lagoon, as well as a second site close to the FAU Harbor Branch campus. Research showed that levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria were much higher in the Taylor Creek samples, a waterway which is impacted by agricultural and urban development and receives discharges from the C-25 canal as well as the Fort Pierce Farms Water Control District C-1 canal.
In a previous FAU Harbor Branch study, antibiotic-resistant bacteria had been detected in samples taken from Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon (Schaefer et al. 2009). These findings are what led to this water sampling research in 2011 and additional sampling of local dolphins is ongoing. Results from both projects, along with environmental data will provide a comprehensive overview of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the lagoon.
Antibiotics are used extensively in medicine to prevent and treat microbial infections in humans and animals, as well as in agriculture to promote the growth of livestock. As a result, antibiotics are released into the environment through disposal and excretion and have been detected in waste water, surface water, ground water and sediments. Exposure to these large quantities of antibiotics can lead to the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic strains of bacteria.
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