Rivers ‘awash with dangerous levels of antibiotics’
Worldwide river water is being contaminated with antibiotic wastes mixed with water. As a result, environmental security poses a serious threat. The highest levels of antibiotics were found in rivers water in Bangladesh. Alistair Boxall, Professor in Environmental Science at University of York, England and his team found 14 widely used antibiotics in the rivers across 6 continents. Countries where high levels of antibiotics were found in rivers are: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria. Austria, on the other hand, has the largest antibiotic presence in the countries of Europe.
According to the history of Antibiotics, the management of microbial infections in ancient Egypt, Greece, and China is well-documented. The modern era of antibiotics started with the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928. Since then, antibiotics have transformed modern medicine and saved millions of lives. Antibiotics were first prescribed to treat serious infections in the 1940s. Penicillin was successful in controlling bacterial infections among World War II soldiers.
However, shortly thereafter, penicillin resistance became a substantial clinical problem, so that, by the 1950s, many of the advances of the prior decade were threatened. In response, new beta-lactam antibiotics were discovered, developed, and deployed, restoring confidence. However, the first case of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was identified during that same decade, in the United Kingdom in 1962 and in the United States in 1968.
Unfortunately, resistance has eventually been seen to nearly all antibiotics that have been developed. Vancomycin was introduced into clinical practice in 1972 for the treatment of methicillin resistance in both S. aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococci. It had been so difficult to induce vancomycin resistance that it was believed unlikely to occur in a clinical setting. However, cases of vancomycin resistance were reported in coagulase-negative staphylococci in 1979 and 1983. From the late 1960s through the early 1980s, the pharmaceutical industry introduced many new antibiotics to solve the resistance problem, but after that the antibiotic pipeline began to dry up and fewer new drugs were introduced. As a result, in 2015, many decades after the first patients were treated with antibiotics; bacterial infections have again become a threat.
World Health Organization (WHO) research report, antibiotic resistance is called when the body develops resistance to antibiotics and because of this trend; seven million people die every year in the world. By 2050, the number could stand at one crore.
Bangladesh is in a dangerous position for excessive antibiotic use in livestock, fish and agriculture. The most commonly used antibiotics are in agriculture. It accounts for about half of the total antibiotic used in Bangladesh.
As a result, these antibiotics are entering the human body easily through to the agricultural diets. So the antibiotic is losing its effectiveness, so does the body. In addition, the slight bacterial infection due to excessive antibiotic use is now becoming a threat to the user's life.
Researchers say the existence of antibiotics in some Bangladesh rivers 300 times the safe levels. The researchers detected a maximum total antibiotic concentration of 233 nanograms per litre (ng/l) in the River Thames and one of its tributaries in London. In Bangladesh, the concentration was 170 times higher, according to the research.
The researchers tested 711 sites and collecting samples from 72 countries including Bangladesh were 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.
"It exposed what horrifying antibiotic content is being spread in river water around the world. We could have large parts of the environment that have got antibiotics at levels high enough to affect resistance," said Alistair Boxall, an environmental scientist at the University of York, England, who co-led the study.
"The results are quite eye opening and worrying, demonstrating the widespread contamination of river systems around the world with antibiotic compounds," the report quoted Professor Boxall.
British media reported the Telegraph that antibiotic-resistant superbugs were responsible for 80 per cent of deaths in large intensive care centres (ICUs) in Bangladesh hospitals. That is, the Superbug is responsible for 8 of the 10 deaths in the ICU.
According to the report, the suggestion of antibiotic drugs in Bangladesh is not properly followed. Patient uses antibiotics without the doctor's advice and purchases antibiotics illegally from the drugs store.
Syed Sayedul Haque Sumon, a lawyer, filed a writ petition in the High Court on April 24, adding the report published in several newspapers including The Telegraph. The bench of the High Court Justice Sheikh Hasan Arif and Justice Raziq Al Jalil directed the government to take steps to stop the sale of antibiotics without proper supervision and the management of a registered doctor.
The WHO warns that the number of antibiotics that are effective in preventing disease is decreasing day by day. As a result, the company has called on the government and manufacturing companies to emphasize the discovery of new generation drugs.
Meanwhile, the WHO has already warned that antibiotic efficacy is slowly eroding, the WHO said in a message that antibiotics are spreading throughout the world. He called on pharmaceutical companies and the government to make advanced antibiotic drugs for the new generation rapidly.
"Improving the safe management of health and hygiene services in low-income countries is critical in the fight against antimicrobial resistance," said Helen Hamilton, health and hygiene analyst at the UK-based charity Water Aid.
The writer is a Correspondent, American International News Service