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Antibiotics showing up in water supplies

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FORT COLLINS, Colo., Oct 20, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Colorado State University researchers have found evidence that antibiotic drugs are making their way into public waterways.

The researchers found traces of the drugs -- used to enhance growth and prevent diseases in livestock such as cattle -- along the Cache la Poudre watershed in Colorado. They said their findings could be applied to other areas throughout the United States.

For example, they detected the antibiotic monensin, used for growth enhancement in cattle, in waterways located near animal feeding operations in concentrations 20 times to 1,000 times greater in the river's sediment than in the surrounding water.

Although the levels remain below what could harm the environment or human health, the researchers said the findings reveal that animal antibiotics definitely are making their way into streams and rivers.

The presence of the drugs raises the potential of toxic dangers to fish, plants and other aquatic organisms -- as well as to humans through drinking water, the researchers said, adding that water treatment plants cannot remove these compounds completely.

There also is a concern, they said, that these types of medications could promote new strains of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to even high doses of medications.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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