The KL Department of Water Quality and Health is researching the origin and spread of antibiotic resistance along the Lower Austrian Danube tributaries. The project complements FWF-funded research on the overall situation of the Danube on the same topic.
Multiresistant bacteria increasingly pose insurmountable challenges for doctors, especially in hospitals. In Europe, the number of patients who die in hospitals due to bacterial infections against which no antibiotics are effective due to comprehensive resistance is estimated at 33,000 persons per year. The WHO and the EU have therefore developed action plans to minimise the problem of resistance, which will also cover the spread of resistant bacteria in the environment.
In order to investigate the origin of antibiotic-resistant germs in Lower Austrian Danube tributaries, KL Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alexander Kirschner and Univ. Prof. Dr. Andreas Farnleitner of the division Water Quality and Health as study directors have been granted NFB support for the research project "A quantitative concept for the investigation of human-associated antibiotic resistance in rivers along the human wastewater path". This supplements an FWF-funded project on the situation along the entire Danube course.
The two research projects will investigate the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARG) along the human faecal wastewater path in rivers. For this purpose, a new quantitative investigation concept has been developed, which is intended to provide the basis for a future evaluation system of the occurrence of ARB and ARG in rivers. By linking the resistance data for the first time with intelligent faecal diagnostics developed by Prof. Farnleitner's research team in recent years, a direct conclusion on the origin of the resistance in the investigated samples should be possible. The FWF-funded project addresses the international dimension of the problem along the Danube, the most international river in the world. The NFB-funded project addresses the problem on a national level in selected tributaries of the Danube in Lower Austria.
For KL, the complementary funding of this newly established field of antibiotic resistance research by the Austrian Science Fund FWF as Austria's central institution for the promotion of basic research and by Niederösterreichische Forschungs- und Bildungs- GmbH - as the Lower Austrian counterpart to the FWF - is a further milestone towards greater visibility in the research landscape. The projects link the activities of the Department of Water Quality and Health with other clinical and university partners, including the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology at the University Hospital St. Pölten, the Institute for Hygiene, Microbiology and Environmental Medicine at the Medical University of Graz, the Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna and the Institute for Bioanalytics and Agro-Metabolomics in Tulln, as well as with the Water Group of the Office of the Provincial Government of Lower Austria. The projects are a valuable contribution to the thematic focus "Water" of the Research, Technology and Innovation Programme (FTI) of the Province of Lower Austria.