Death in the water: African rivers awash with fatal antibiotics

The Nairobi River. In Kenya, many rivers have poisonous water flowing along their courses. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By The East African

As people increasingly turn to antibiotics, the drugs are finding their way into water resources, resulting in pollution and related health complications.

In a study conducted by the University of York in the UK, researchers found that rivers in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya have antibiotic levels that have surpassed the safe limit.

The York study analyzed levels of 14 commonly used antibiotics in rivers of 72 countries. Sixty-five per cent of them were found to have varying levels of antibiotics.

These include metronidazole, which is used to treat skin and mouth infections; clarithromycin, which is used as a treatment for respiratory tract infections like bronchitis; and Ciprofloxacin, which treats infections of the skin and urinary tract.

The researchers collected the data from 711 sites including well-known rivers such as Danube in Austria, the Thames in Britain, the Nairobi River in Kenya, the Mekong, a trans-boundary river in Southeast Asia and the Tigris in Iraq.

They established that high-risk sites are typically next to wastewater treatment plants, waste or sewage dumps as well as in areas experiencing political turmoil. Read more>>


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