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Low levels of antibiotic resistance in drinking water

October 18, 2017 | Andres Jordi

Compared to other foodstuffs, Switzerland’s drinking water shows low levels of contamination with antibiotic-resistant bacteria or resistance genes. This was demonstrated in a study of eight drinking water systems carried out by Eawag researchers on behalf of the Swiss Gas and Water Industry Association (SVGW) and water suppliers. Bacteria resistant to all the antibiotics tested were found in raw water samples; in treated drinking water, however, they were markedly reduced or no longer detectable. The resistance genes investigated were also frequently below the limit of detection. While the researchers cannot entirely rule out the possibility of antibiotic resistance developing and spreading in Switzerland’s drinking water, they conclude that the transfer of resistance genes to pathogenic or human gut bacteria is limited.