In India, high rates of antibiotic consumption and poor sanitation infrastructure combine to pose a significant risk to the public through the environmental transmission of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The WHO has declared extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-positive Escherichia coli a key indicator for the surveillance of AMR worldwide. In the current study, we measured the prevalence of AMR bacteria in an urban aquatic environment in India by detecting metabolically active ESBL-positive E. coli. Water samples were collected in duplicate from 16 representative environmental water sources including open canals, drains, and rivers around Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. We detected culturable E. coli in environmental water at 11 (69%) of the sites. Out of the 11 sites that were positive for culturable E. coli, ESBL-producing E. coli was observed at 7 (64%). The prevalence of ESBL-producing E. coli detected in the urban aquatic environment suggests a threat of AMR bacteria to this region.

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