The objective with this study was to determine and follow antimicrobial resistance in faecal bacteria over time in hospital wastewater pipe sediment. A further aim was to determine bacterial growth rates of sensitive, intermediate and resistant intestinal enterococci in different ciprofloxacin concentrations as a measure of bacterial fitness.
A system enabling the collection of settled particles over time was installed at Kalmar County Hospital. Samples were collected bi-monthly for a 14-month period. Coliform bacteria and enterococci were isolated from the sediment with standard methods and investigated for resistance to ciprofloxacin (CIP), imipenem (IMI), trimetroprim-sulfamethoxazole (TS), ampicillin (AMP) and vancomycin (VAN) by the disc diffusion method. Resistant isolates were further typed with the PhenePlateTM system. Growth assessments were performed with an automated spectrophotometer.
The rate of intestinal enterococci resistance was < 0.6, 1.3, 1.9 and 13% to VAN, IMI, AMP and CIP respectively. Coliform resistance frequencies were 1.1, 2.2 and 2.2% to CIP, IMI and TS respectively. At two sampling occasions, significantly higher rates of ciprofloxacin resistant enterococci were found and the establishment of a resistant clone in the sewer was indicated by the PhP-analysis. Ciprofloxacin resistant intestinal enterococci had a significantly longer lag-phase time than sensitive isolates, but from 500 µg ml-1 (half MIC) resistant isolates had a competitive advantage in terms of significantly faster generation time.
Despite high concentration of antimicrobials in the sediment, resistance frequencies were generally low. This can depend on limited growth possibilities for faecal bacteria. However, the establishment of a resistant clone shows that hospital sewers can serve as a reservoir for antibiotic resistant bacteria.
2012. Vol. 2, 7438- p.