Submitted to: CSA News
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/29/2023
Publication Date: 6/1/2023
Citation: Burch, T.R. 2023. A one health study on antimicrobial resistance in rural groundwater. CSA News. https://doi.org/10.1002/csan.21030.
Technical Abstract: Antimicrobial resistance is a global public health problem, contributing to more than 2 million infections per year in the United States. It has also been characterized as a “One Health” problem because resistance is believed to be driven by a combination of human, animal, and environmental factors. However, very few studies on antimicrobial resistance capture all three of these One Health sectors simultaneously. This study examined the presence of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) – the genetic basis of resistance in bacteria – in groundwater from a rural region of northeast Wisconsin impacted by residential septic systems and land-applied dairy manure. ARGs were found in groundwater from household wells, and their presence was related to land use, rainfall, groundwater conditions, and well construction. Septic systems were the most common land use factor identified across all ARGs investigated. However, ARGs were also found at similar rates in the presence of genetic markers for humans compared to cows. This study found that waste from humans and cows contributed equally to contamination of groundwater by ARGs in this setting. Mitigation efforts that consider both human and agricultural sources of antimicrobial resistance may be more effective than those that focus on a single source.