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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 (CC BY 3.0).
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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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