Faecal indicator bacteria and antibiotic-resistant β-lactamase producing Escherichia coli in blackwater: a pilot study

  • Urška Šunta Department of Sanitary Engineering, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana
  • Miha Žitnik Department of Sanitary Engineering, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana
  • Noemi Concetta Finocchiaro Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Catania, Catania
  • Tjaša Griessler Bulc Department of Sanitary Engineering, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana
  • Karmen Godič Torkar University in Ljubljana, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ljubljana
Keywords: antimicrobial resistance, extended spectrum β-lactamases, metallo-β-lactamases, public health, wastewater treatment


The aim of this study was to identify and quantify faecal indicator bacteria in blackwater collected from a source separation unit and determine the amount of E. coli isolates resistant to antimicrobials and their potential to produce extended spectrum β-lactamases (ESβLs) and metallo-β-lactamases (MβLs), which hydrolyse the most important antibiotics used in clinical practice. Most of the isolates were resistant to amoxicillin with clavulanic acid (36.4 %), followed by ticarcillin with clavulanic acid (22.7 %) and tetracycline (18.2 %). ESβL-producing genes blaCTX-M and blaTEM were found in three (13.6 %) and four (18.2 %) E. coli strains, respectively, while MβL genes were found in two (9.1 %). By separating at source, this pilot study clearly shows that gastrointestinal bacteria of healthy people can be an important source of antibiotic resistance released into the environment through wastewaters. One way to prevent that is to treat wastewater with a combination of TiO2, UV light, or ozone, as successful methods to remove resistant bacteria and prevent their spread in the environment.

Author Biography

Karmen Godič Torkar, University in Ljubljana, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ljubljana

Department for Sanitary Engeneering


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How to Cite
Šunta U, Žitnik M, Finocchiaro NC, Griessler BulcT, Godič TorkarK. Faecal indicator bacteria and antibiotic-resistant β-lactamase producing Escherichia coli in blackwater: a pilot study. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol [Internet]. 2019Jun.7 [cited 2020Dec.2];70(2). Available from: https://arhiv.imi.hr/index.php/arhiv/article/view/1047
Original article