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River Thames high in antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Ninety per cent of antibiotics taken by people enter the sewage system after passing through the body.

Researchers call for a significant cut in antibiotic prescriptions

Scientists studying the effect of antibiotic prescriptions on the environment say there would need to be an 80 per cent fall in antibiotics entering the River Thames to avoid the development of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’.

Researchers from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) modelled the effects of the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a river. They found that, across three-quarters of the River Thames, the antibiotics present were high enough for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop.

The study comes after England’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies warned that antibiotic resistance could kill humans “before climate change does.”
 Results are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Rivers are a ‘reservoir’ for antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can quickly spread to people via water, soil, air, food and animals,” said Dr Andrew Singer of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. “Our beaches offer a similar risk. It has been shown that surfers are four times more likely to carry drug-resistant bacteria than non-surfers.”

Ninety per cent of antibiotics taken by people enter the sewage system after passing through the body, with around half ending up in rivers when the sewage is discharged. 


“The release of drugs and bugs into our rivers increases the likelihood of antibiotic-resistant genes being shared, either through mutation or ‘bacterial sex’,” explains Dr Singer.

“This is the first step towards the development of superbugs as the drugs used to fight them will no longer work. Environmental pollution from drugs and bugs is a serious problem that we need to find solutions to.”


Researchers say there are several possible solutions to cut the number of antibiotics that enter our rivers. These include reducing inappropriate prescriptions, taking preventative action so fewer medicines are needed in the first place and increased investment in the research and development of new wastewater treatment processes. 

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Rare chimp birth announced at Edinburgh Zoo

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) welcomed the birth of a critically endangered western chimpanzee on Monday 3 February at Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

The baby girl will be named in the coming days through a public vote, and staff will carry out a paternity test during its first health check to determine the father.

Mother Heleen's first infant, Velu, was born in 2014, making this new baby only the second chimpanzee born in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Budongo Trail team leader Donald Gow said: "While we celebrate every birth, this one is particularly special because our new arrival is a critically endangered Western chimpanzee, a rare subspecies of chimpanzee."

Image (c) RZSS/Donald Gow. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.