Nandayure River Being Studied for Possible Presence of Antibiotics

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Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria that make us sick, but if our body receives these medications regularly and in high amounts, the bad bacteria adapt and become stronger. The result: We get sick more often and it becomes harder and harder for antibiotics to help us get better.

In order to study possible contamination with microbial agents in the environment, Nandayure is the third place in Guanacaste where a multidisciplinary team from the University of Costa Rica and the National University will be conducting a study to find out whether or not there is antibiotic contamination in the water.

The first study was conducted in 2008 and 2009 on the Arenal-Tempisque irrigation system, and in 2010, local farmers producers from La Cruz were interviewed. The results of these studies are not public yet.

The study in Nandayure began in February and will take place over a period of two years. Specialists will be taking samples from the river and from water wells in surrounding communities to identify if antibiotics are present as well as bacteria resistant to them.

According to Natalia Rodriguez, coordinator of the project, since Nandayure is considered a “mixed” canton, with crops being planted and animals being raised (pigs and birds), it is ideal for this type of study.

Antibiotics used in animals can be  transferred to the environment Rodriguez explained. When an animal is sick, it is usually given a shot with a medication that is eventually eliminated from the animal’s body through urine or feces. Because there aren’t always adequate drains on these farms, the animal waste ends up in groundwater through infiltration or in rivers by means of rain.

In addition, the bottles that contained the antibiotics are sometimes thrown on the ground, thrown away in the garbage or burned, generating pollution.

For now, they are conducting surveys with farmers and veterinarians to find out what kind of antibiotics are used most, how often they are used and which ones are sold.