Superbugs have started to become a bigger problem over the years because bacteria are becoming resistant to certain antibiotics. A “superbug” is essentially an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause numerous health issues due to an inability to treat it with standard antibiotics.
The chief medical officer in England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said superbugs could be a bigger risk to humanity than climate change. She estimated they could kill over 10 million people annually. A recent study revealed the massive amounts of antibiotics being dumped into the River Thames could result in such a superbug.
Development and Spread of Superbugs
The study was performed by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). It revealed across 75% of the river’s catchment, antibiotics present in the water were at levels high enough to spark the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The presence of such a high level of antibiotics is due to effluent discharge.
This occurs because 90 percent of the antibiotics people take passes through their bodies. These antibiotics then end up in the sewage system; half of that ends up in the river. It’s why rivers are a known reservoir for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Once antibiotics get into the water, it can result in mutation or bacterial reproduction, leading to the development of superbugs.
Researchers believe to prevent the development of superbugs in the River Thames, the amount of effluent discharge occurring will need to be cut by 80%. This may seem like a tall task, but experts have recommended some solutions, including:
- Finding a way to improve wastewater treatment processes to remove antibiotics from the sewer systems
- Focusing more on preventative care so that fewer antibiotics are needed
- Reducing the number of unnecessary antibiotics being prescribed
If action isn’t taken soon, the number of antibiotics entering the River Thames could result in the development of superbugs. For more information about superbugs or for more health-related news in general, visit The Benefits Store.