The water industry needs to join the fight against superbugs

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The fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria – so-called “superbugs” – is a huge challenge, one that the World Health Organization has described as a grave global problem.

When superbugs hit the headlines it’s often because of hospital outbreaks, such as the outbreak of Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus that infected babies in Melbourne in 2013. Yet the problem isn’t confined to hospitals – the wider environment can be important in the development and spread of these bugs, and people can be infected through food and water.

The problem of antibiotic resistance is being exacerbated worldwide by the pollution of waste water with leftover drugs, providing breeding grounds for resistant bacteria and their genes. The problem can persist for years, constantly refreshed by new discharges of both drugs and of resistant bacteria themselves, shed by people and animals.

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