BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Montana State University research about pollution in the Ganges River has reached the Supreme Court of India, producing some optimism among MSU scientists who study the 1,500-mile river.
"It's nice to know that our work is being recognized by a government institute in India and being presented at the highest level," said Steve Hamner, research associate in microbiology. "Lots of things get done judicially in India."
The Ganges River is considered a goddess, but Tim Ford, head of MSU's microbiology department, said it has become a soup of pollution.
"It's a beautiful river. It's just really mucked up," he commented.
The river contains untreated sewage, cremated remains, chemicals and disease-causing microbes, the researchers said. Cows wade in the river. People wash their laundry in it and drink from it. Ford said the Ganges has become the kind of place where genetic material could transfer between pathogens and create new pathogens.
"Wastewater treatment is critical to protecting human health from waterborne diseases," Ford said. "The Ganges River is a major source of disease burden in that region."
Hamner said MSU and a government lab in India each sampled the Ganges and found enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) bacteria. The bacteria known as 0157:H7 bacteria. It was first detected in the United States in 1982 after someone ate a tainted hamburger. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 0157:H7 now infects more than 73,000 people and kills about 60 people a year in the United States. The CDC said most of those illnesses have been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef, drinking unpasteurized milk, swimming in or drinking contaminated water and eating contaminated vegetables. The bacteria can cause dysentery and kidney failure. It occasionally kills.
Hamner learned this spring that a research institute in Lucknow, India reported its l
|Contact: Evelyn Boswell|
Montana State University