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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(8), 2669-2693; doi:10.3390/ijerph9082669

Microbial Monitoring of Surface Water in South Africa: An Overview

1,* , 2
Received: 20 April 2012 / Revised: 6 July 2012 / Accepted: 12 July 2012 / Published: 30 July 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drinking Water and Health)
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Infrastructural problems force South African households to supplement their drinking water consumption from water resources of inadequate microbial quality. Microbial water quality monitoring is currently based on the Colilert®18 system which leads to rapidly available results. Using Escherichia coli as the indicator microorganism limits the influence of environmental sources on the reported results. The current system allows for understanding of long-term trends of microbial surface water quality and the related public health risks. However, rates of false positive for the Colilert®18-derived concentrations have been reported to range from 7.4% to 36.4%. At the same time, rates of false negative results vary from 3.5% to 12.5%; and the Colilert medium has been reported to provide for cultivation of only 56.8% of relevant strains. Identification of unknown sources of faecal contamination is not currently feasible. Based on literature review, calibration of the antibiotic-resistance spectra of Escherichia coli or the bifidobacterial tracking ratio should be investigated locally for potential implementation into the existing monitoring system. The current system could be too costly to implement in certain areas of South Africa where the modified H2S strip test might be used as a surrogate for the Colilert®18.
Keywords: E. coli; national microbial monitoring programme; bifidobacteria; H2S strip test E. coli; national microbial monitoring programme; bifidobacteria; H2S strip test
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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Luyt, C.D.; Tandlich, R.; Muller, W.J.; Wilhelmi, B.S. Microbial Monitoring of Surface Water in South Africa: An Overview. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 2669-2693.

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