[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 28-May-2009
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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22165
BioMed Central

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in fertilizer

Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) have been found in sewage sludge, a by-product of waste-water treatment frequently used as a fertilizer. Researchers writing in the open access journal Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica point out the danger of antibiotic resistance genes passing into the human food chain.

Leena Sahlström, from the Finnish Food safety Authority, worked with a team of researchers from the Swedish National Veterinary Institute to study sewage sludge from a waste-water treatment plant in Uppsala, Sweden. She said, "Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat in veterinary medicine and human healthcare. Resistance genes can spread from animals, through the food-chain, and back to humans. Sewage sludge may act as one link in this chain".

The researchers collected sludge from the plant every week for four months, for a total of 77 samples. Of these, 79% tested positive for the drug resistant superbugs. Although VRE themselves are not generally considered to be highly pathogenic, the danger is that they may pass on their resistance genes to other bacteria. Sahlström concludes, "Our results demonstrate a need for more efficient hygienic treatment of sewage sludge, in order to avoid possible spread of antimicrobial resistance through use of sewage sludge on arable land".

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Notes to Editors

1. Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) in Swedish sewage sludge
Leena Sahlström, Verena Rehbinder, Ann Albihn, Anna Aspan and Björn Bengtsson
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica (in press)

During the embargo, article available here: http://www.actavetscand.com/imedia/1649419098239136_article.pdf?random=755153

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.actavetscand.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

2. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica is an open access journal encompassing all aspects of veterinary research and medicine of domestic and wild animals. It is the official journal of the Veterinary Associations of the Nordic Countries but welcomes submissions from veterinary colleagues worldwide.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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