Prevalence and characterization of antibiotic resistant bacteria in raw community sewage from diverse urban communities

Francis Rathinam Charles, Jit Xin Lim, Hongjie Chen, Shin Giek Goh, Yiliang He, Karina Yew Hoong Gin

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9 Scopus citations


Community sewage is a useful medium for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance of populations residing in urban dwellings as it provides the resolution of tracking sources of AMR from different waste streams within a community. Antibiotic resistance profiles of 4 opportunistic pathogens were compared from 3 sewage sources: raw community sewage from 2 housing estates, a foreign workers dormitory and a pet centre. Sewage was collected from receiving manholes and a culture-based method was used to quantify opportunistic pathogens Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterococcus spp. K. pneumoniae was the most prevalent opportunistic pathogen detected while P. aeruginosa was the least abundant across the sample. A total of 892 bacterial isolates were selected for antibiotic susceptibility testing using the VITEK 2 Compact System (bioMérieux, Singapore). E. coli isolated from the pet centre exhibited higher resistance towards all 16 antibiotics tested, and P. aeruginosa showed at least 75% resistance towards the classes of antibiotics, except for carbapenems, aminoglycosides and quinolones (below 30%). For K. pneumoniae, resistance towards the classes of antibiotics was below 10%, except for penicillin and nitrofurans. Enterococcus spp. had high resistance towards gentamicin and clindamycin (both almost 100%), while resistance towards vancomycin was below 18% for all 4 locations. Multidrug resistant (MDR) P. aeruginosa and Enterococcus spp. showed the highest prevalence with percentages above 96%. MDR E. coli and MDR K. pneumoniae was lower, ranging between 9% to 54% and 8% to 23% respectively. Highest prevalence of MDR E. coli and K. pneumoniae were detected in the pet centre, with a percentage of 54% and 23% respectively. These results show that wastewater based surveillance is not only a useful method of understanding emerging trends of AMR across the community but also provides the resolution of capturing AMR data from key sewage sources based on population demographics. This information could provide a basis for devising better control measures to mitigate the spread of MDR.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153926
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotic resistant bacteria
  • Antibiotic susceptibility tests
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Community sewage
  • Wastewater


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