Antimicrobial resistance and the environment

Tracking, tracing and tackling antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our environment

How does the environment contribute to AMR?

We do not yet fully understand how the environment contributes to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In fact, our understanding of how the environment contributes to AMR is the biggest unknown.

While there is a lot we don’t know, we do know that antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread through our environment in many ways.

This includes through:

  • manure, fertilisers and agricultural run-off
  • industrial wastewater and sewerage systems
  • soil and groundwater
  • rivers and streams
  • wildlife.

How can OUTBREAK help to combat AMR in the environment?

OUTBREAK’s hi-tech surveillance system will collect and analyse data on antimicrobial resistance in Australia’s environment.

With this data, OUTBREAK will help us to:

  • determine the levels of antibiotic residues and antibiotic resistant bacteria in our wastewater and sewage, storm water systems and recreational waterways
  • determine if, where and how AMR in the environment affects human health
  • inform new water treatment technologies and processes
  • identify high levels of AMR in the environment and possible remediation strategies
  • determine how wildlife contributes to the spread of AMR
  • detect new strains of AMR bacteria in the environment
  • support quality assurance for fresh food products.
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