Antibiotics entering Thames Endanger Lives Just as Climate Change informs a new study demonstrates that the amount of antibiotics entering the River Thames would need to be cut by 80 percent to avoid the development and further spread of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’.

Scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology modeled the effects of antibiotic prescriptions on the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a river. They found out that across three-quarters of the River Thames catchment, the antibiotics are present.

Up to 90% of prescribed antibiotics pass through the body into the sewerage system, where about half end up in rivers when effluent is discharged. Antibiotics could pose a more immediate risk to humanity than climate change, and may kill at least 10 million people a year across the world.

There are a number of different ways the amount of antibiotics entering rivers can be reduced.

  • Reducing inappropriate prescriptions
  • Considering preventative actions (more rapid diagnosis, better hygiene controls in hospitals, greater uptake of vaccinations )
  • Investing in research and development of new wastewater treatment processes that would remove the drugs and bugs from sewage.

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