Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION -

When the re­searchers con­ducted tests to find out the average num­ber of colony form­ing units, or CFU, (the unit used to mea­sure the num­ber of bac­te­ria in a sam­ple) in the wa­ter, they found it was ten times higher than the per­mis­si­ble limit of 100CFU/100ML. In Mum­bai, it was more than 1,000CFU/100ML. Sci­en­tists said this was be­cause of the high lev­els of un­treated fae­cal mat­ter that is re­leased into the sea.

The team also found 54%, or 67 of the sam­ples, tested pos­i­tive for at least one vir­u­lent gene (VG) — which means the or­gan­ism has the ca­pac­ity to cause a more com­pli­cated form of dis­eases re­sis­tant to drugs. They found all of these VGS were Mul­ti­ple An­tibi­otic Re­sis­tant, re­sis­tant to more than 12 groups of an­tibi­otics that are avail­able to treat them.

The find­ings are a cause for con­cern, as cer­tain strains of E-coli pos­sess vir­u­lence prop­er­ties that al­low them to cause a wide spec­trum of in­fec­tions in gas­troin­testi­nal, uri­nary, and the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tems (CNS). Ev­ery year, more than 120 mil­lion cases of gas­troin­testi­nal dis­ease, and 50 mil­lion cases of se­vere res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases are caused world­wide by swim­ming and bathing in coastal wa­ters that are pol­luted with sewage.

The re­search team, headed by Dr Ab­hay Phulke, col­lected sam­ples in the pre-mon­soon, mon­soon and post-mon­soon pe­ri­ods in 2015-16. “Dadar had the high­est re­sis­tance in­dex, fol­lowed by Versova, Mahim, Juhu and Gir­gaum. The mul­ti­ple an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tances among 100% of the vir­u­lence genes is wor­ri­some as dis­ease caused by these or­gan­isms will be very dif­fi­cult to treat. These bac­te­ria are the main cause of child­hood di­ar­rhoea world­wide, caus­ing more than two mil­lion deaths a year,” said Dr Phulke.

Cit­ing pre­vi­ous stud­ies, the sci­en­tists said de­spite the many laws and reg­u­la­tions of the Coastal Zone Man­age­ment, En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and the Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Boards, par­tially treated or un­treated waste from the city’s sep­tic sys­tems, and storm wa­ter run-off from ur­ban and ru­ral ar­eas was find­ing its way into the sea, de­grad­ing the shore­line.

“Over­all, it can be con­cluded that wa­ters in the beaches of Mum­bai are of mi­cro­bi­o­log­i­cally poor qual­ity and there­fore, ef­fec­tive mea­sures such as proper san­i­ta­tion, ef­fi­cient dis­posal fa­cil­i­ties, and waste­water treat­ment must be taken,” Dr Phulke said

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