CDC taps Virginia Tech researchers to study antibiotic resistance in water

The CDC awarded two contracts to faculty at Blacksburg, Va.-based Virginia Tech Nov. 5, to study the effects of antibiotic resistance in recycled water and plumbing.

Amy Pruden, PhD, and Marc Edwards, PhD, both professors in the Charles Edward Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, will conduct their research over the next year.

The main objective of their research is to bolster the CDC's wider effort to address emerging public health priorities, such as disease control. Specifically, they will study antibiotic-resistant pathogens and resistant genes in water reuse.

Water recycling helps maintain sufficient water supplies for commercial, industrial, agricultural and residential use. Through the purification process, systems meet high microbial reduction standards, which do not include removing antibiotic-resistant organisms.

Dr. Pruden’s project will analyze and design a wastewater treatment and reclamation process that will act as a barrier to spreading antibiotic resistance. Dr. Edwards will examine plumbing for pathogens that may colonize in hospital drinking water systems. Both studies will collaborate with Virginia Tech faculty members.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria parameters are not well defined, so the study will also investigate which disinfectants are most effective. The Virginia Tech team will compare chlorine, chloramine, chlorine dioxide, copper-silver and no disinfectant for their ability to control pathogens and biofilm in different types of pipes such as copper, plastic and iron.

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