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CEE Seminar - Proliferation and Control of Multidrug-Resistant "Superbugs" in Sewage Treatment Plants

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Friday, February 09, 2018
2:00 am - 3:00 am
Pedro Alvarez, 2018 AEESP Distinguished Lecturer, Rice University
CEE Spring 2018 Seminar Series

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) pose an imminent threat to global health. Their propagation is a major economic and public health concern due to the growing inefficacy of available antimicrobial agents to treat infectious disease. For example, ARB infections in the U.S. are responsible for $20 billion in excess health care costs and 8 million additional hospital days every year. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) play a vital role in minimizing the discharge of many water pollutants to the environment, including antibiotics and pathogenic microorganisms. However, WWTPs may also serve as breeding grounds and point sources for environmental dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and ARB. In this seminar, we will illustrate how biological treatment units in WWTPs promote bacterial growth and genetic exchange, which in turn may increase ARG proliferation and transfer to indigenous bacteria in receiving waters.....