The Ganges river in India is living proof that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are almost everywhere. The river offers powerful insight into the prevalence and spread of drug-resistant infections, one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Its waters provide clues to how these pathogens find their way into our ecosystem.
According to the New York Times, annual tests by scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology show that antibiotic-resistant bacteria appear while the river is still flowing through the narrow gorges of the Himalayan foothills, hundreds of miles before it encounters any of the usual suspects that would pollute its waters with resistant germs.
Other studies confirm the danger. An article in Lancet Infectious Diseases found that about 57 percent of infections in India with Klebsiella pneumoniae, a common bacterium, were carbapenem-resistant.