Isolation and characterization of human pathogenic multidrug resistant bacteria associated with plastic litter collected in Zanzibar

Farah N. Rasool, Mariana A. Saavedra, Siajali Pamba, Vonica Perold, Aviti J Mmochi, Mohammed Maalim, Lone Simonsen, Lars Buur, Rasmus Hundsbæk Pedersen, Kristian Syberg, Lotte Jelsbak*

*Corresponding author

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Plastic pollution is a growing problem, not at least in areas where poor waste management results in direct pollution of coastal zones, such as South Asia and regions in Africa. In addition to the effect on ecosystems and their related services, plastic pollution may also affect human health indirectly as vectors for infectious disease. As plastic offers a suitable surface for the attachment of biofilm forming bacteria, it may contribute to disease outbreaks and antimicrobial resistance. To investigate the role of plastic litter as potential vectors for pathogenic bacteria, we collected plastic litter from four rural sites in Zanzibar, and isolated adhered bacteria. Isolates were short-read sequenced for further molecular analysis. This revealed that collected plastic litter was associated with diverse bacterial species, including human pathogens Citrobacter freundii, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Vibrio cholerae. Furthermore, most isolates were found to be multidrug resistant. Our findings confirm that plastic litter, serve as novel reservoir for human multidrug resistant pathogenic bacteria that combined with poor sanitation and waste handling, may lead to transmission of infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. These findings add a new level to the environmental challenges with plastic pollution; the potential health risk associated with exposure to plastic litter.
TidsskriftJournal of Hazardous Materials
Udgave nummer405
StatusUdgivet - 5 mar. 2021

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