The environmental cycling of antibiotic-resistant blaCTX-M-15-producing E. coli following release from wastewater treatment plants is a major public health concern. This study aimed to (i) assess the impact of sediment concentrations on the rate of their inactivation following release from human wastewater into freshwater, and (ii) simulate their subsequent dispersal to the nearby coastline during a “worst-case” event where heavy rainfall coincided with high spring tide in the Conwy Estuary, North Wales. Freshwater microcosms of low, medium and high turbidity were inoculated with blaCTX-M-15-producing E. coli, then exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Typical regional wintertime exposure to UV was found to be insufficient to eradicate E. coli, and in highly turbid water, many bacteria survived simulated typical regional summertime UV exposure. Modelling results revealed that blaCTX-M-15-producing E. coli concentrations reduced downstream from the discharge source, with ~ 30% of the source concentration capable of dispersing through the estuary to the coast, taking ~36 h. Offshore, the concentration simulated at key shellfisheries and bathing water sites ranged from 1.4% to 10% of the upstream input, depending on the distance offshore and tidal regime, persisting in the water column for over a week. Our work indicates that the survival of such organisms post-release into freshwater is extended under typical wintertime conditions, which could ultimately have implications for human health.
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Oct 2020|