Author(S): Sambaza, S.S., Naicker, N.

Source: Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance 34 (2023) 23–29


Objectives: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global challenge that has raised concern globally, owing to its detrimental effects on the health and economy of countries. The ever-growing threat of AMR and sources of AMR are still being investigated. Wastewater plays an important role as a habitat for bacteria and an environment conducive to gene transfer. The primary aim of this review was to highlight the contribution of wastewater to AMR.

Methods: Evidence of AMR in wastewater was drawn from literature published in the last 10 years, from 2012 to 2022.

Results: Wastewater from agricultural practices, pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, and hospital effluents was established to promote AMR. Furthermore, stress factors such as the presence of antibiotics, heavy metals, pH, and temperature initiate and propagate AMR in bacteria living in wastewater. AMR in bacteria from wastewater was established to be either natural or acquired. Wastewater treatment techniques such as membrane filtration, coagulation, adsorption, and advanced oxidation processes have been used to remove resistant bacteria with varying success levels.

Conclusion: Wastewater is a major contributor to AMR, and an understanding of its role in AMR is necessary to find a lasting solution. In this regard, the spread of AMR in wastewater should be considered a threat that requires a strategy to stop further damage.

Keywords: antimicrobial resistance; wastewater; antibiotic molecules; resistant bacteria; resistance gene