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Antibiotic resistant enterococci in irrigation canals and sediments along the Rio Grande



Antibiotic resistant enterococci in irrigation canals and sediments along the Rio Grande



Abstracts of the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology 101: 660



Fecal contamination of water can be identified by indicator organisms, such as Enterococcus and E. coli. The row crop industry in the valleys along the Rio Grande is very dependent upon the river for irrigation water. A total of 38 sediment and 44 water samples from irrigation canals and the Rio Grande were collected from 12 locations in El Paso, Presidio, and Weslaco, TX from June to November 2000. Collections of water were made using the grab sample method and sediment samples were collected from the top one centimeter and placed in a sterile container. Samples were stored on ice until lab analyses were performed. Samples were analyzed for enterococci following the EPA Method 1600, using mEI agar and APHA Standard Methods, using mEnterococcus agar, both with or without streptomycin (16 ug/ml) and vancomycin (32 ug/ml). We observed a significant number of sediment samples (100%) and water samples (97%) testing positive for enterococci. Enterococcal levels ranged from below detection to a maximum of 1330 CFU/g. When evaluating the resistance to streptomycin and vancomycin, more samples of both water and sediment were resistant from Presidio, followed by El Paso, and Weslaco. Eighty percent of water samples from Presidio were resistant, while the El Paso and Weslaco sites demonstrated 44% and 19% resistance respectively. Seventy percent of sediment samples from Presidio were resistant, while 33% and 21% were resistant from El Paso and Weslaco respectively. Presidio sites exhibited more resistance to antibiotics even though this study area has the lowest population density. It is possible that the large population, upstream, around El Paso has influenced the Rio Grande flowing through Presidio. The low counts in El Paso irrigation systems may be due to the diversion of irrigation water from the river before it enters the highly populated region along the border. This may a factor leading to higher levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria in Presidio. The results of this study suggest that irrigation water used on crops may be a source of antibiotic resistant pathogenic microorganisms and agricultural management practices should take this into consideration.

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