Relationship between antibiotic- and disinfectant-resistance profiles in bacteria harvested from tap water.
Chemosphere. 2016 Jun ;152:132-41. Epub 2016 Mar 8. PMID: 26966812
Chlorination is commonly used to control levels of bacteria in drinking water; however, viable bacteria may remain due to chlorine resistance. What is concerning is that surviving bacteria, due to co-selection factors, may also have increased resistance to common antibiotics. This would pose a public health risk as it could link resistant bacteria in the natural environment to human population. Here, we investigated the relationship between chlorine- and antibiotic-resistances by harvesting 148 surviving bacteria from chlorinated drinking-water systems and compared their susceptibilities against chlorine disinfectants and antibiotics. Twenty-two genera were isolated, including members of Paenibacillus, Burkholderia, Escherichia, Sphingomonas and Dermacoccus species. Weak (but significant) correlations were found between chlorine-tolerance and minimum inhibitory concentrations against the antibiotics tetracycline, sulfamethoxazole and amoxicillin, but not against ciprofloxacin; this suggest that chlorine-tolerant bacteria are more likely to also be antibiotic resistant. Further, antibiotic-resistant bacteria survived longer than antibiotic-sensitive organisms when exposed to free chlorine in a contact-time assay; however, there were little differences in susceptibility when exposed to monochloramine. Irrespective of antibiotic-resistance, spore-forming bacteria had higher tolerance against disinfection compounds. The presence of chlorine-resistant bacteria surviving in drinking-water systems may carry additional risk of antibiotic resistance.