Antimicrobial resistance of fecal bacteria in waters of the Seine river watershed (France)

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsServais, P, Passerat, J
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Start Page365-372
Date Published2009
KeywordsAntimicrobial resistance, escherichia coli, Intestinal enterococci, River waters, wastewaters

We studied the prevalences of antimicrobial resistance (AR) and multiple antimicrobial resistance (MAR) among the fecal bacteria found in the rivers of a large watershed under strong anthropogenic pressures, the Seine river watershed (France). Two groups of fecal indicator bacteria, Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci, were tested for their susceptibility to 16 and 10 antimicrobials respectively, using the disk diffusion method. We found that 42% of the 214 E. coli river isolates were AR (resistant to at least one antimicrobial) and 35% were MAR (resistant to at least two antimicrobials). Among the 148 intestinal enterococci isolates from rivers, 83% were AR and 49% were MAR. We also investigated the sources of AR fecal bacteria found in the rivers of the watershed. A total of 715 E. coli isolates and 476 intestinal enterococci isolates were collected in point sources (municipal and hospital wastewaters) and non-point sources (surface runoff and soil leaching waters from agricultural or forest areas). For E. coli, the prevalence of AR differed widely from source to source and ranked in this order: hospital wastewaters (71%) > municipal wastewaters (44%) > agricultural non-point sources (16%) > forest non-point sources (2%). The prevalence of MAR ranked similarly, and the same trend was observed for intestinal enterococci. The AR level of fecal bacteria in the sources was related to their expected exposure level to antimicrobials before their release into the environment. A MAR index was calculated for every source and a good discrimination between them was thus obtained. At the global scale of the Seine river watershed, domestic wastewaters seemed more likely to be the predominant source of the AR fecal bacteria found in the rivers. This was corroborated by the similarity of the MAR indices from river and municipal wastewater isolates for both fecal indicators.