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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria thriving in Galway’s sewers

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Scientists at NUIG have discovered high levels of bacteria resistant to all antibiotics in urban sewage – but they insist that risk can be reduced greatly by an effective wastewater treatment.

Researchers at the School of Medicine – together with colleagues in UCD – carried out the study on whether antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria are present in hospital sewage and city sewage generally.

The research, published by the EPA, sought to address how antibiotics seep into the environment and to examine possible effects on human health.

The NUIG scientists claimed that antibiotic resistance was one of the greatest threats to public health. They revealed a worldwide epidemic whereby bacterium was becoming resistant to antibiotics and as a result infections becoming increasingly difficult to treat.

High levels of resistant bacteria existed in hospital sewage where – on average – one in three patients are on antibiotics. Bacteria in hospital sewage also proved resistance to a number of “newer” antibiotics.

But the study also showed resistant bacteria was reduced greatly by effective wastewater treatment. However they maintain that it did not eliminate them completely some antibiotic resistant bacteria survive and are discharged to seawater.

“This study highlights a part of the problem of antibiotic resistance that does not receive very much attention,” explained Dr. Dearbháile Morris, a bacteriologist from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway.

“Our work shows that there is a risk related to antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria in sewage but that a high standard of sewage treatment goes a long way to reduce that risk.

“This is one more reason why the discharge of untreated or inadequately treated sewage to the environment in Ireland or indeed anywhere in Europe or the wider world is an unacceptable risk to our health,” she added.

Resistant bacteria have emerged in humans due to overconsumption and improper use of antibiotic medicines. Bodies do not distil all of the antibiotics we ingest and as a result many active agents find their way into the natural environment.

Once exposed to the environment, expelled antibiotics mingle with bacteria in the water and cause existing microorganisms to develop resistant genes thus increasing the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Urban waste water and sewage treatment is vitally important in combating the global phenomenon of antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance. Untreated sewage has a long term ecological impact on the environment.

The latest EPA report on Urban Waste Water Treatment reveals that untreated sewage was discharged from 45 areas, 27 of which were located in counties Cork, Donegal and Galway.

The report also shows just 24% of waste water discharged into sensitive areas from large towns and cities complied with mandatory European Union nutrient quality standards.

But Dr Morris acknowledged that the old hypothesis which suggests an occasional pinch of dirt can actually benefit the immune system by keeping it tuned and strong, could well hold some weight.

She admitted that “we have possibly become over concerned with hygiene” – to the detriment of our own health.

“Antibiotics are fantastic drugs” she insisted, adding “we have to protect them”.  When antibiotics first came to use, they were made using naturally occurring ingredients like medicinal fungi – penicillin.

Since then, antibiotic resistance has forced pharmaceutical providers to create a new selection of drugs to fight infection.

Synthetic antibiotics like fluoroquinolones have increased in popularity as they do not biologically occur in nature, making them more robust. However, lately scientists are discovering increased resistance against synthetic drugs.

Reports last November emerged of the so called ‘Apocalypse Pig’, a swine which showed resistance to a 50-year-old and unexposed antibiotic, known as the ‘last-resort antibiotic’ – colistin.

The ECDC (European Centre for Disease Control) together with the WHO (World Health Organisation) have since called for global awareness on the issue.

Dr. Morris, echoing the sentiments of global health authorities, calls for more considered use of antibiotics in tackling the antimicrobial resistance epidemic.

Considered use means only taking antibiotics when they are genuinely needed as antibiotic use is a key driver for antimicrobial resistance. The modern lax approach to pharmaceuticals is one that ought to be curtailed according to Dr. Morris.

‘Dr. Google’ is also mentioned as responsible for spawning a nation of self-diagnosing hypochondriacs – pro ne to self-medication and exaggeration in order to obtain prescription.

Dr. Morris also warned against the unnecessary and futile use of antibiotics for treatment of viral infections.

The common cold and flu are two such examples – both strains of the influenza virus. It is said taking antibiotics for treatment of a virus may do the body – and the environment – more harm than good.

CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors offer support to LGBT+ centre for city

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Teach Solus...the original Amach centre in Galway, which closed in 2019.

Councillors voted to include support for a resource centre for the wider gay community in the next development plan despite concerns that would amount to discrimination against groups lobbying for their own dedicated facilities.

Social Democrats Councillor Owen Hanley told a draft development plan meeting that Galway was the largest city in Ireland not to have a LGBT+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender+) resource centre after Teach Solais closed in 2019 due to a lack of dedicated funding to meet operating costs.

A room was set up in the Westside Centre to hold certain activities organised by the community group Amach but a standalone resource centre was vital, he stated.

“It’s about sending a strong signal to the national government that we take this seriously,” he stressed.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said “many, many” organisations had approached her and other councillors requesting their own centre, among them the Indian and Muslim communities.

“I could name another ten,” she remarked. “Why would we specify a centre for a particular community that could discriminate against the Indian or Muslim community.”

She said support for a multi-functional community facility was preferable rather than designating a specific puspose.

Senior executive planner Helen Coleman agreed, saying the Council had no objection to a LGBT+ resource centre, it had a policy of supporting all community facilities collectively rather than singling out one “that would trump all others”.

Cllr Niall McNelis (Lab) asked what guarantee was there that a LGBT centre would be delivered, pointing out that a proposal for a western writers’ centre had been in three successive plans but it had never materialised.

Fianna Fáil’s Mike Crowe believed support for this facility did not rule out all others. He stressed that community centres could be used by all people in Galway, “no matter what race or creed you are”.

“I think this proposal is merited, it’s needed and required and parents around the county would appreciate it. It’s not that discriminate against other groups.”

On recommendation of the planners, Cllr McDonnell tabled a motion that the Council encouraged the provision of facilities to support all community groups, including the LGBT+ community.

Cllr Hanley said this would downgrade the objective contained in successive plans. He wanted to single out the objective as a standalone policy to elevate its importance. When that motion failed by seven votes, Cllr Hanley’s proposal was passed by unanimous agreement.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Plans afloat for another new bridge over Corrib

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An artist’s impression of the pedestrian bridge.

The next City Development Plan will pave the way for a new bridge across the Corrib at Newtownsmyth – in addition to the Salmon Weir Pedestrian Bridge which is due to begin construction later this year.

The Draft Plan, which was approved by councillors last week and will soon go on public display, includes a specific objective to “investigate the potential for the construction of a new pedestrian bridge from Gaol Road to Newtownsmyth”.

This, according to the plan, will contribute to the regeneration of Nun’s Island.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) raised the issue and said while it was welcome, it was something he was unaware of until councillors were presented with the plan.

Senior Engineer Uinsinn Finn said while the proposal was in its very early stages, a new bridge would encourage a greater modal shift – away from car dependency towards increased walking and cycling.

“The more bridges you have, the more encouragement you give to active modes of transport.

“There is no specific location for it as yet, but the objective is open-ended so that would allow for further investigation,” said Mr Finn, pointing to the former Hygeia Chemicals site as a regeneration project that could be augmented by the addition of a bridge.

The plan also includes for improved pedestrian crossing facilities adjacent to the existing Wolfe Tone Bridge and the progression of a pedestrian and cycle bridge on the Old Clifden Railway Line which could potentially link to the Greenway network.

“The proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge on the piers of the Old Clifden Railway line from Woodquay to NUI Galway will link places of study, work, retail and recreation by sustainable modes of transport, bringing vibrancy and new areas of public realm.

“The bridge, which has attracted Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) funding, will link in with the existing walking route along the River Corrib and ultimately the Connemara Greenway and also play a key role in connectivity in the GTS cycle network,” states the draft plan.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Search is on for Miss Galway as Ireland celebrate its 75th Diamond Jubilee

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Miss Ireland Pamela Uba announcing the search for her successor.

The current Miss Galway still has to jet back out to Puerto Rico for the second part of this year’s Miss World competition – but already the hunt is on for her successor!

Because while Pamela Uba still has most of her year to run as Miss Ireland, the organisers have announced the competition to find her heir apparent.

And as an added bonus, this next event marks the 75th Jubilee of the competition with plans for the largest and most spectacular show this summer.

Galway provided four of last year’s finalists – with Pamela joined by Miss Galway West 28-year-old Emma Finnegan from Clonberne; Miss Galway Bay 24-year-old Yvonne O’Brien, and Miss Salthill, 19-year-old Emma Pender.

But it was Pamela, the 26-year-old Renmore resident and medical scientist at Galway University Hospital, who went on to win the coveted Miss Ireland crown.

She has since featured prominently across media here and also made waves internationally, appearing on TV in Los Angeles, London, Johannesburg and even featuring in the New York Times.

Pamela spent a month in Puerto Rico representing Ireland at Miss World before Covid curtailed the pageant – and she is all set to jet back out there in March for the overall final.

“Puerto Rico is a gorgeous country, with blue water, water sands. I love the culture, the music, the food. The girls are lovely, I’ve made friends from places I’d have never thought,” she said.

And because of the virus outbreak which saw 15 staff and 23 of the contestants – though fortunately not Pamela – confirmed as Covid positive during the pageant, she now gets to do it all again!

“Who gets to represent their country twice?” she said.

“It’s a great blessing I get to do this again. I get the chance to go out again and with luck and God by our side we’ll do even better.”

But in the meantime, the organisers are stepping up the competition for her successor.

Selections will run all over the country to find contestants from each county with beauty, poise and personality to take part in the Miss Ireland 2022 competition next summer.

The winner from each county represents their county at the most spectacular ever Diamond Jubilee Miss Ireland show.

The winner of each of the county crowns and sashes also enjoy representing their county and title throughout the year at various events, awards and appearances.

This year’s winner will receive a lucrative agency contract and a host of prizes including jewellery, gowns, professional photo shoots, beauty and hair products and then jet off to represent her country at the Miss World Festival which is televised in over 100 countries around the world.

Full details on how to enter Miss Ireland 2022 are available on www.miss-ireland.ie or on the Miss Ireland App now available from Apple App Store or Google Play.

 

 

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