Water samples collected from 20 stream sites in Oakland and Macomb Counties, Mich., were analyzed to learn more about the occurrence of cephalosporin-resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and the co-occurrence of antibiotics and mercury in area streams. Fecal indicator bacteria concentrations exceeded the Michigan recreational water-quality standard of 300 E. coli colony-forming units (CFU) per 100 milliliters of water in 19 of 35 stream-water samples collected in Oakland County. A gene commonly associated with enterococci from humans was detected in samples from Paint Creek at Rochester and Evans Ditch at Southfield, indicating that human fecal waste is a possible source of fecal contamination at these sites. E. coli resistant to the cephalosporin antibiotics (cefoxitin and/or ceftriaxone) were found at all sites on at least one occasion. The highest percentages of E. coli isolates resistant to cefoxitin and ceftriaxone were 71 percent (Clinton River at Auburn Hills) and 19 percent (Sashabaw Creek near Drayton Plains), respectively. Cephalosporin-resistant E. coli was detected more frequently in samples from intensively urbanized or industrialized areas than in samples from less urbanized areas. VRE were not detected in any sample collected in this study. Multiple antibiotics (azithromycin, erythromycin, ofloxacin, sulfamethoxazole, and trimethoprim) were detected in water samples from the Clinton River at Auburn Hills, and tylosin (an antibiotic used in veterinary medicine and livestock production that belongs to the macrolide group, along with erythromycin) was detected in one water sample from Paint Creek at Rochester. Concentrations of total mercury were as high as 19.8 nanograms per liter (Evans Ditch at Southfield). There was no relation among percentage of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and measured concentrations of antibiotics or mercury in the water. Genetic elements capable of exchanging multiple antibiotic-resistance genes (class I integrons) were detected in several samples, indicating that the resistance carried by these organisms may be transferable to other bacteria, including disease-causing bacteria.
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USGS Numbered Series
Antibiotic-Resistant Fecal Bacteria, Antibiotics, and Mercury in Surface Waters of Oakland County, Michigan, 2005-2006