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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7(5), 2376-2394; doi:10.3390/ijerph7052376
Article

Municipal Wastewater Effluents as a Source of Listerial Pathogens in the Aquatic Milieu of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa: A Concern of Public Health Importance

1
, 2
 and 1,*
1 Applied and Environmental Microbiology Research Group (AEMREG), Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Fort Hare, Private Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa 2 Deputy Vice-Chancellor office, Walter Sisulu University, Umthata, South Africa
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 April 2010 / Revised: 28 April 2010 / Accepted: 30 April 2010 / Published: 12 May 2010
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Abstract

We evaluated the effluent quality of an urban wastewater treatment facility in South Africa and its impact on the receiving watershed for a period of 12 months. The prevalence and antimicrobial susceptibility of potential Listeria pathogens (L. ivanovii and L. innocua) and the physicochemical quality of the treated wastewater effluent was assessed, with a view to ascertain the potential health and environmental hazards of the discharged effluent. Total listerial density varied between 2.9 × 100 and 1.2 × 105 cfu/mL; free living Listeria species were more prevalent (84%), compared to Listeria species attached to planktons (59–75%). The treated effluent quality fell short of recommended standards for turbidity, dissolved oxygen, chemical oxygen demand, nitrite, phosphate and Listeria density; while pH, temperature, total dissolved solids and nitrate contents were compliant with target quality limits after treatment. The Listeria isolates (23) were sensitive to three (15%) of the 20 test antibiotics, and showed varying (4.5–91%) levels of resistance to 17 antibiotics. Of seven resistance gene markers assayed, only sulII genes were detected in five (22%) Listeria strains. The study demonstrates a potential negative impact of the wastewater effluent on the receiving environment and suggests a serious public health implication for those who depend on the receiving watershed for drinking and other purposes.
Keywords: water quality; Listeria pathogens; health/environmental impact; receiving watershed water quality; Listeria pathogens; health/environmental impact; receiving watershed
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Odjadjare, E.E.; Obi, L.C.; Okoh, A.I. Municipal Wastewater Effluents as a Source of Listerial Pathogens in the Aquatic Milieu of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa: A Concern of Public Health Importance. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7, 2376-2394.

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