A new study found “excessively high” levels of antibiotic and antifungal drugs in water sources near a major drug production center in India where 50% of the country’s drug exports are produced and a fifth of the world’s generic drugs. Unsurprisingly, the researchers also found high levels of microbes that were resistant to those drugs. It should give us no comfort that this was found in India and not the US. Microbes travel long distances with ease. A drug-resistant pathogen first noticed in parts of China infected its first US patient last year. Of the twenty-three water samples the researchers took, all but one contained bacteria that were resistant to multiple drugs; all samples contained carbapenemase-producing bacteria, which are known as the “nightmare bacteria” because it is virtually untreatable and kills up to 50% of those who get infected. Some drugs were found in concentrations hundreds or thousands times higher than recommended safe limits. One water sample contained an antifungal drug in concentrations 950,000 times higher than the safe limit.

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