Gene found in Georgia sewer water could be 'global public health threat,' scientists say

Jan 12, 2022

ATHENS, Ga. - University of Georgia scientists have found a gene that causes bacteria to be resistant to one of the world's most important antibiotics in sewer water in Georgia.

Researchers say they discovered the MCR-9 gene, which causes resistance to colistin, while testing sewage water in an urban environment in Georgia.


Antimicrobial resistance is a problem that has been declared "one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity" by the World Health Organization in 2020.


According to UGA, assistant professor Issmat Kassem's team found evidence of the gene in the very first sample they took during their tests.

The gene was found in bacteria known as Morganella morganii, which is concerning because officials say this is the first known time MCR has been discovered in this specific bacteria and could mean that the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is more widespread than currently believed.

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