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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(8), 817; doi:10.3390/ijerph13080817

The Impact of Human Activities on Microbial Quality of Rivers in the Vhembe District, South Africa

1
Microbiology Department, University of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou 0950, South Africa
2
Zoology Department, University of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou 0950, South Africa
3
Department of Environmental Health, Tshwane University of Technology, Private Bag X680, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
4
Water & Health Research Unit, University of Johannesburg, PO Box 524, Auckland Park, Johannesburg 2006, South Africa
5
Dean, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou 0950, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Miklas Scholz
Received: 3 February 2016 / Revised: 26 July 2016 / Accepted: 28 July 2016 / Published: 12 August 2016
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Abstract

Background: Water quality testing is dictated by microbial agents found at the time of sampling in reference to their acceptable risk levels. Human activities might contaminate valuable water resources and add to the microbial load present in water bodies. Therefore, the effects of human activities on the microbial quality of rivers collected from twelve catchments in the Vhembe District in South Africa were investigated, with samples analyzed for total coliform (TC) and Eschericha coli (E. coli) contents. Methods: Physical parameters and various human activities were recorded for each sampling site. The Quanti-Tray® method was adopted for the assessment of TC and E. coli contents in the rivers over a two-year period. A multiplex polymerase chain (PCR) method was used to characterize the strains of E. coli found. Results: The microbial quality of the rivers was poor with both TC and E. coli contents found to be over acceptable limits set by the South African Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). No significant difference (p > 0.05) was detected between TC and E. coli risks in dry and wet seasons. All six pathogenic E. coli strains were identified and Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), atypical Enteropathogenic E. coli (a-EPEC) and Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) were the most prevalent E. coli strains detected (respectively, 87%, 86% and 83%). Conclusions: The study indicated that contamination in the majority of sampling sites, due to human activities such as car wash, animal grazing and farming, poses health risks to communities using the rivers for various domestic chores. It is therefore recommended that more education by the respective departments is done to avert pollution of rivers and prevent health risks to the communities in the Vhembe District. View Full-Text
Keywords: quanti-tray; total coliforms; E. coli; PCR; risk assessment quanti-tray; total coliforms; E. coli; PCR; risk assessment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Traoré, A.N.; Mulaudzi, K.; Chari, G.J.; Foord, S.H.; Mudau, L.S.; Barnard, T.G.; Potgieter, N. The Impact of Human Activities on Microbial Quality of Rivers in the Vhembe District, South Africa. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 817.

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