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Airplane sewage contains a large diversity of resistant bacteria

Airplane sanitary facilities are shared by an international audience are hypothesized to be a source for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In this study, which is a collaboration between CARe and researchers in Germany, antibiotic resistance genes and bacteria were analyzed in airplane-borne sewage using both molecular and cultivation-based methods. The results show that airplane sewage contains a wide range of mobile antibiotic resistance genes. There were also a high abundance of bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics, in particular third-generation cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and aminoglycosides. The findings thus suggest that airplane-borne sewage may be a large contributor to the fast and global spread of antibiotic resistance.

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