Carbapenem-resistant bacteria in a secondary wastewater treatment plant
Bacterial resistance to carbapenems is an emerging problem of this century. A carbapenem-resistant bacterial population (CRBP) grown at 42°C was monitored in the influent and effluent of a secondary municipal wastewater treatment plant over 10 months. The municipal wastewater consisted of domestic, industrial, hospital and storm wastewaters. Median numbers of CRBP in influent and effluent water were 3.5 and 1.3 log CFU/mL, with its prevalence among total heterotrophic bacteria at 47% and 26%, respectively. Correlation of CRBP with physico-chemical and other bacteriological parameters of wastewater was estimated. Higher numbers of CRBP in influent and effluent were found in cases of nutrient-rich wastewater with higher concentrations of total heterotrophic bacteria and intestinal enterococci. Reduction of CRBP in the wastewater treatment process of 54% was comparable to the reduction of intestinal enterococci. Despite the significant elimination of CRBP in the secondary type of wastewater treatment plant, substantial numbers of CRBP are released through the effluent into the natural receiving waters. Since the CRBP grown at 42°C was not found in natural water samples beyond the vicinity of hospitals, these bacteria may be used as an indicator of hospital wastewaters.
Keywords: environmental bacteria, carbapenem-resistant bacteria, public health, wastewater