In recent years, the topic of antimicrobial resistance has gained some notoriety. Many of us are familiar with the Hospital Superbug, Methicillin resistance Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Decades of less than necessary and even redundant use of antibiotics have resulted in certain microorganisms mutating and adapting to survive. These mutations have evolved a strain of microorganism which have rendered some conventional antimicrobial treatments ineffective, thus creating a more dangerous and deadly strain from something that was previously pedestrian Indeed many people who have loved ones, or indeed themselves admitted to hospital fear the MRSA superbug far more than the ailment that first led them to the infirmary. And with good reason. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that over 80,000 MRSA related infections occur annually and shockingly, it results in the deaths of over 11,000 people per year. Alarmingly, in many parts of China and Southeast Asia the same thing is happening with the water supply.
The inefficient and sometimes blatant disregard, for proper government mandated wastewater management processes has spawned a new breed of waterborne superbugs. These are classed as superbugs simply because they have become resistant to conventional cleaning and purification methods that would have in the past fully eradicated their predecessors. Previously this blog addressed a concern that fish farmers around Tianjin had been using aggressive antimicrobial chemicals such as Malachite Green to protect their stock from disease. From the farmers point of view these are steps that are necessary because the local water supply is too polluted for their stock to survive. From a consumer point of view, which most of us agree with, the farmers are considered negligent because they have inadequate filtration systems in place. However, this is not unique to the aquaculture industry.
Many corporations have been found to be using less than adequate wastewater management and purification practices. Untreated wastewater serves as a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and other waterborne agents. Many strains of bacteria are now being found to be resistant to conventional levels of chemical cleansing and hence progressively higher concentrations have been used. Recent studies have shown that in poorly developed areas, soils irrigated with poorly treated wastewater contain harmful species of anti-microbial resistant bacteria. This in turn exposes the farm workers and the consumers of crops produced by those areas to these harmful pathogens.
Fortunately, the solution is far less complex than the actual problem. Firstly, improving wastewater management techniques is essential to prevent creating an environment for bacterial growth and adaptation. Activated Filter Media has been shown to be highly cost effective and can be easily retrofitted into existing filtration systems. For those areas where anti-microbial resistant strains have been found the key is to disrupt the biofilm formation. Many Anti-microbial resistant species, including MRSA, secrete a substance known as a biofilm which surrounds and protects spores and cells protecting them from the elements and from anti-microbial agents. Activated Filter Media (AFM) has been shown to disrupt biofilm formation in many bacteria species such as Legionella sp. and Staphylococcus aureus thus protecting the consumer from dangerous anti-microbial resistant pathogens.