Researchers at the Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS) in Porto have detected pathogenic bacteria, some even resistant to antibiotics, in the waters of the northern beaches of the country, which they believe are driven by climate change.
In a publication on the website of the University of Porto, the icbas communication office states that the results were obtained under the BeachSafe project, which studies the presence of microbial agents in 10 northern beaches: Afife, Ofir, Póvoa do Varzim, Árvore, Matosinhos, Salgueiros, Aguda, Paramos, Cortegaça and São Jacinto.
“In bathing waters of northern Portugal, classified as excellent for bathing according to the legislation in force, bacteria of the genus vibrio, some pathogenic to humans, including resistant to antibiotics, were detected,” the publication reads.
According to ICBAS, climate change, including increased temperature, salinity variations and particle concentration in water, “seem to be responsible” for the spread of these bacteria, which represent “an unaccounted risk to public health”, since the official assessment is based on fecal indicators.
“The number of bathing water-related infections worldwide, including in Europe, has been growing in recent years,” says the University of Porto institute, adding that most cases are associated with “autochthonous bacteria” and “enteric viruses.”
“Most cases are associated with autochthonous bacteria that meet favorable conditions to spread due to climate change or enteric viruses as a result of discharges of gross or poorly treated wastewater,” icbas explains.
The BeachSafe project, led by researchers from the Laboratory of Hydrobiology and Ecology of ICBAS, is co-financed by the COMPETE2020, Portugal 2020 programme, the European Union through the ERDF and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).