River water samples were taken from 32 locations around the basin of Chaophraya River and its four major tributaries in Thailand to investigate resistance ratios of Escherichia coli isolates to eight antibiotic agents of amoxicillin, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, tetracycline, doxytetracycline, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, norfloxacin and ofloxacin. Principal component analysis was performed to characterize resistance patterns of the samples. Relevancy of the obtained principal components with urban land use and fecal contamination of the river were examined. The ratio of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is likely to increase when urban land use near the sampling site exceeds a certain ratio. The resistance ratio to fluoroquinolones tends to be high in a highly populated area. Meanwhile, no significant contribution of fecal contamination was found to increase the resistance ratio. These results suggest that an antibiotic-resistance ratio is dependent on conditions of local urbanization rather than the upstream conditions, and that the major sources of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Chaophraya River basin are possibly point sources located in the urban area which contains a high ratio of resistant bacteria.

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