Category Archives: Microbial contaminants

Vibrio Pathogens a Health Concern in Sub-Saharan Africa

Osunla CA, Okoh AI. Vibrio Pathogens: A Public Health Concern in Rural Water Resources in Sub-Saharan Africa. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Oct 7;14(10). pii: E1188. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14101188.

Members of the Vibrio genus are autochthonous inhabitants of aquatic environments and play vital roles in sustaining the aquatic milieu. The genus comprises about 100 species, which are mostly of marine or freshwater origin, and their classification is frequently updated due to the continuous discovery of novel species. The main route of transmission of Vibrio pathogens to man is through drinking of contaminated water and consumption inadequately cooked aquatic food products. In sub-Saharan Africa and much of the developing world, some rural dwellers use freshwater resources such as rivers for domestic activities, bathing, and cultural and religious purposes. This review describes the impact of inadequately treated sewage effluents on the receiving freshwater resources and the associated risk to the rural dwellers that depends on the water. Vibrio infections remain a threat to public health. In the last decade, Vibrio disease outbreaks have created alertness on the personal, economic, and public health uncertainties associated with the impact of contaminated water in the aquatic environment of sub-Saharan Africa. In this review, we carried out an overview of Vibrio pathogens in rural water resources in Sub-Saharan Africa and the implication of Vibrio pathogens on public health. Continuous monitoring of Vibrio pathogens among environmental freshwater and treated effluents is expected to help reduce the risk associated with the early detection of sources of infection, and also aid our understanding of the natural ecology and evolution of Vibrio pathogens.

Cholera Outbreak from Contaminated Lake Water, Uganda

Oguttu DW, Okullo A, Bwire G, Nsubuga P, Ario AR. Cholera outbreak caused by drinking lake water contaminated with human faeces in Kaiso Village, Hoima District, Western Uganda, October 2015. Infect Dis Poverty. 2017 Oct 10;6(1):146. doi: 10.1186/s40249-017-0359-2.

BACKGROUND: On 12 October 2015, a cholera outbreak involving 65 cases and two deaths was reported in a fishing village in Hoima District, Western Uganda. Despite initial response by the local health department, the outbreak persisted. We conducted an investigation to identify the source and mode of transmission, and recommend evidence-led interventions to control and prevent cholera outbreaks in this area.

METHODS: We defined a suspected case as the onset of acute watery diarrhoea from 1 October to 2 November 2015 in a resident of Kaiso Village. A confirmed case was a suspected case who had Vibrio cholerae isolated from stool. We found cases by record review and active community case finding. We performed descriptive epidemiologic analysis for hypothesis generation. In an unmatched case-control study, we compared exposure histories of 61 cases and 126 controls randomly selected among asymptomatic village residents. We also conducted an environmental assessment and obtained meteorological data from a weather station.

RESULTS: We identified 122 suspected cases, of which six were culture-confirmed, 47 were confirmed positive with a rapid diagnostic test and two died. The two deceased cases had onset of the disease on 2 October and 10 October, respectively. Heavy rainfall occurred on 7-11 October; a point-source outbreak occurred on 12-15 October, followed by continuous community transmission for two weeks. Village residents usually collected drinking water from three lakeshore points – A, B and C: 9.8% (6/61) of case-persons and 31% (39/126) of control-persons were found to usually use point A, 21% (13/61) of case-persons and 37% (46/126) of control-persons were found to usually use point B (OR = 1.8, 95% CI: 0.64-5.3), and 69% (42/61) of case-persons and 33% (41/126) of control-persons were found to usually use point C (OR = 6.7; 95% CI: 2.5-17) for water collection. All case-persons (61/61) and 93% (117/126) of control-persons reportedly never treated/boiled drinking water (OR = ∞, 95% CI Fisher: 1.0 – ∞). The village’s piped water system had been vandalised and open defecation was common due to a lack of latrines. The lake water was found to be contiminated due to a gully channel that washed the faeces into the lake at point C.

CONCLUSIONS: This outbreak was likely caused by drinking lake water contaminated by faeces from a gully channel. We recommend treatment of drinking water, fixing the vandalised piped-water system and constructing latrines.

Waterborne Norovirus Outbreaks in Two Undisinfected Groundwater Wells, Finland

Kauppinen A, Pitkänen T, Miettinen IT. Persistent Norovirus Contamination of Groundwater Supplies in Two Waterborne Outbreaks. Food and environmental virology. 2017 Oct 11. doi: 10.1007/s12560-017-9320-6.

Microbiological contamination of groundwater supplies causes waterborne outbreaks worldwide. In this study, two waterborne outbreaks related to microbiological contamination of groundwater supplies are described. Analyses of pathogenic human enteric viruses (noroviruses and adenoviruses), fecal bacteria (Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp.), and indicator microbes (E. coli, coliform bacteria, intestinal enterococci, Clostridium perfringens, heterotrophic plate count, somatic and F-specific coliphages) were conducted in order to reveal the cause of the outbreaks and to examine the effectiveness of the implemented management measures. Moreover, the long-term persistence of noro- and adenovirus genomes was investigated. Noroviruses were detected in water samples from both outbreaks after the intrusion of wastewater into the drinking water sources. In the outbreak I, the removal efficiency of norovirus genome (3.0 log10 removal) in the sand filter of onsite wastewater treatment system (OWTS) and during the transport through the soil into the groundwater well was lower than the removal efficiencies of E. coli, coliform bacteria, intestinal enterococci, and spores of C. perfringens (6.2, 6.0, > 5.9, and > 4.8 log10 removals, respectively). In the outbreak II, cleaning of massively contaminated groundwater well and drinking water distribution network proved challenging, and noro- and adenovirus genomes were detected up to 3 months (108 days). The long-term persistence study showed that noro- and adenovirus genomes can remain detectable in the contaminated water samples up to 1277 and 1343 days, respectively. This study highlights the transport and survival properties of enteric viruses in the environment explaining their potency to cause waterborne outbreaks.

Economic Assessment of Cryptosporidiosis Outbreak, Ireland

Chyzheuskaya A, Srivinas R, O’Donovan D, Prendergast M, O’Donoghue C, Morris D. Economic Assessment of Waterborne Outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis. Emerging infectious diseases. 2017 Oct;23(10):1650-1656. doi: 10.3201/eid2310.152037.

In 2007, a waterborne outbreak of Cryptosporidium hominis infection occurred in western Ireland, resulting in 242 laboratory-confirmed cases and an uncertain number of unconfirmed cases. A boil water notice was in place for 158 days that affected 120,432 persons residing in the area, businesses, visitors, and commuters. This outbreak represented the largest outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in Ireland. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the cost of this outbreak. We adopted a societal perspective in estimating costs associated with the outbreak. Economic cost estimated was based on totaling direct and indirect costs incurred by public and private agencies. The cost of the outbreak was estimated based on 2007 figures. We estimate that the cost of the outbreak was >€19 million (≈€120,000/day of the outbreak). The US dollar equivalent based on today’s exchange rates would be $22.44 million (≈$142,000/day of the outbreak). This study highlights the economic need for a safe drinking water supply.

Cryptosporidium Infection in Cattle, China

Gong C, Cao XF, Deng L, Li W, Huang XM, Lan JC, Xiao QC, Zhong ZJ, Feng F, Zhang Y, Wang WB, Guo P, Wu KJ, Peng GN. Epidemiology of Cryptosporidium infection in cattle in China: a review. Parasite. 2017;24:1. doi: 10.1051/parasite/2017001.

The present review discusses the findings of cryptosporidiosis research conducted in cattle in China and highlights the currently available information on Cryptosporidium epidemiology, genetic diversity, and distribution in China, which is critical to understanding the economic and public health importance of cryptosporidiosis transmission in cattle. To date, 10 Cryptosporidium species have been detected in cattle in China, with an overall infection rate of 11.9%. The highest rate of infection (19.5%) was observed in preweaned calves, followed by that in juveniles (10.69%), postweaned juveniles (9.0%), and adult cattle (4.94%). The dominant species were C. parvum in preweaned calves and C. andersoni in postweaned, juvenile, and adult cattle. Zoonotic Cryptosporidium species (C. parvum and C. hominis) were found in cattle, indicating the possibility of transmission between humans and cattle. Different cattle breeds had significant differences in the prevalence rate and species of Cryptosporidium. This review demonstrates an age-associated, breed-associated, and geographic-related occurrence of Cryptosporidium and provides references for further understanding of the epidemiological characteristics, and for preventing and controlling the disease.

C. hominis, C. parvum dominant in China

Feng Y, Xiao L. Molecular Epidemiology of Cryptosporidiosis in China. Frontiers in microbiology. 2017 Sep 6;8:1701. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01701.

Molecular epidemiology of cryptosporidiosis is an active research area in China. The use of genotyping and subtyping tools in prevalence studies has led to the identification of unique characteristics of Cryptosporidium infections in humans and animals. Human cryptosporidiosis in China is exemplified by the high diversity of Cryptosporidium spp. at species and subtype levels, with dominant C. hominis and C. parvum subtypes being rarely detected in other countries. Similarly, preweaned dairy calves, lambs, and goat kids are mostly infected with non-pathogenic Cryptosporidium species (C. bovis in calves and C. xiaoi in lambs and goat kids), with C. parvum starting to appear in dairy calves as a consequence of concentrated animal feeding operations. The latter Cryptosporidium species is dominated by IId subtypes, with IIa subtypes largely absent from the country. Unlike elsewhere, rodents in China appear to be commonly infected with C. parvum IId subtypes, with identical subtypes being found in these animals, calves, other livestock, and humans. In addition to cattle, pigs and chickens appear to be significant contributors to Cryptosporidium contamination in drinking water sources, as reflected by the frequent detection of C. suis, C. baileyi, and C. meleagridis in water samples. Chinese scientists have also made significant contributions to the development of new molecular epidemiological tools for Cryptosporidium spp. and improvements in our understanding of the mechanism involved in the emergence of hyper-transmissible and virulent C. hominis and C. parvum subtypes. Despite this progress, coordinated research efforts should be made to address changes in Cryptosporidium transmission because of rapid economic development in China and to prevent the introduction and spread of virulent and zoonotic Cryptosporidium species and subtypes in farm animals.

Climate Changes and Human Pathogens Study Misleading

This study (here) of the affect of climate sensitivity on human pathogens is a literature search. The basic thesis being presented is that global warming will result in greater numbers of pathogens which in turn will result in more human illness. This line of thinking makes several assumptions. It might be useful in generating hypotheses for future surveillance but is inadequate for predicting future illness. Why? Because literature reviews are limited by what is called “publication bias”. That is, only certain articles and studies are publishable and others important studies relevant to this review are not published. Studies with negative findings are rarely published. Also, some studies are screened out because of reviewer bias. We can learn from this review but its interpretation is limited. 

Indeed, survival of some pathogens may be expected to decrease.  The authors themselves acknowledge:

“Although this study identifies a high degree of climate sensitivity among important pathogens, their response to climate change will be dependent on the nature of their association with climate drivers and impacts of other drivers.”