Jun 04, 2015

WERF to Begin Studies Addressing Ebola, Antibiotic Resistance Challenges

The studies are in response to recent events & reports

Water Environment Research Foundation ebola antibiotic resistance

The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) will begin new studies addressing Ebola and antibiotic resistance challenges.

The Ebola outbreak has prompted concern about risks to water resource recovery facility (WRRF) operators and workers who may potentially be exposed to these and other newly emerging and or/re-emerging pathogens of concern. As a result, WERF is launching a project titled “Protecting Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators from Emerging Pathogens: A Preparedness Protocol and On-Line Decision Support Tool (WERF3C15).”

This study, conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will develop an integrated preparedness protocol and decision support tool to guide WRRF operators and public health policymakers to prepare for potential risks of emerging pathogens conveyed in wastewater. The result of this study will equip the wastewater sector to be better informed and prepared based on the estimated levels of risk from the emerging pathogen of concern by using advanced but user-friendly decision support tools.

The next project, "Occurrence, Proliferation, and Persistence of Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance During Wastewater Treatment (WERF1C15)," is in response to a 2000 World Health Organization report identifying antibiotic resistance as a critical human health challenge for the next century and heralded the need for “a global strategy to contain resistance.” The research team from the University of Las Vegas will identify the major sources of wastewater-derived antibiotic resistance (i.e., raw sewage), determine the treatment conditions that promote antibiotic resistance development or reduce its prevalence, and characterize the persistence of antibiotic resistance in the environment. Ultimately, this knowledge will assist in developing mitigation strategies and potentially alleviate environmental and public health concerns.