Category Archives: Microbial contaminants

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.”

V. cholerae can survive in the river systems, Bangladesh

Grant SL, Tamason CC, Hoque BA, Jensen PK. Drinking cholera: salinity levels and palatability of drinking water in coastal Bangladesh. Trop Med Int Health. 2015 Apr;20(4):455-61. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12455. 

OBJECTIVES: To measure the salinity levels of common water sources in coastal Bangladesh and explore perceptions of water palatability among the local population to investigate the plausibility of linking cholera outbreaks in Bangladesh with ingestion of saline-rich cholera-infected river water.

METHODS: Hundred participants took part in a taste-testing experiment of water with varying levels of salinity. Salinity measurements were taken of both drinking and non-drinking water sources. Informal group discussions were conducted to gain an in-depth understanding of water sources and water uses.

RESULTS: Salinity levels of non-drinking water sources suggest that the conditions for Vibrio cholerae survival exist 7-8 days within the local aquatic environment. However, 96% of participants in the taste-testing experiment reported that they would never drink water with salinity levels that would be conducive to V. cholerae survival. Furthermore, salinity levels of participant’s drinking water sources were all well below the levels required for optimal survival of V. cholerae. Respondents explained that they preferred less salty and more aesthetically pleasing drinking water.

CONCLUSION: Theoretically, V. cholerae can survive in the river systems in Bangladesh; however, water sources which have been contaminated with river water are avoided as potential drinking water sources. Furthermore, there are no physical connecting points between the river system and drinking water sources among the study population, indicating that the primary driver for cholera cases in Bangladesh is likely not through the contamination of saline-rich river water into drinking water sources.

Helicobacter pylori can survive in free-living amoebas

Moreno-Mesonero L, Moreno Y, Alonso JL, Ferrús MA. Detection of viable Helicobacter pylori inside free-living amoebae in wastewater and drinking water samples from Eastern Spain. Environ Microbiol. 2017 Jul 14. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13856.

Helicobacter pylori is one of the most concerning emerging waterborne pathogens. It has been suggested that it could survive in water inside free-living amoebae (FLA), but nobody has studied this relationship in the environment yet. Thus, we aimed to detect viable H. pylori cells from inside FLA in water samples. Sixty-nine wastewater and 31 drinking water samples were collected. FLA were purified and identified by PCR and sequencing. For exclusively detecting H. pylori inside FLA, samples were exposed to sodium hypochlorite and assayed by specific PMA-qPCR, DVC-FISH and culture. FLA were detected in 38.7% of drinking water and 79.7% of wastewater samples, even after disinfection. In wastewater, Acanthamoeba spp. and members of the family Vahlkampfiidae were identified. In drinking water, Acanthamoeba spp. and Echinamoeba and/or Vermamoeba were present. In 39 (58.2%) FLA-positive samples, H. pylori was detected by PMA-qPCR. After DVC-FISH, 21 (31.3%) samples harboured viable H. pylori internalized cells. H. pylori was cultured from 10 wastewater samples. To our knowledge, this is the first report that demonstrates that H. pylori can survive inside FLA in drinking water and wastewater, strongly supporting the hypothesis that FLA could play an important role in the transmission of H. pylori to humans.

Antibiotic-Resistant E. coli in Drinking Water, Hangzhou City, China

Chen Z, Yu D, He S, Ye H, Zhang L, Wen Y, Zhang W, Shu L, Chen S. Prevalence of Antibiotic-Resistant Escherichia coli in Drinking Water Sources in Hangzhou City. Front Microbiol. 2017 Jun 16;8:1133. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01133. eCollection 2017.

This study investigated the distribution of antibiotic resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli) and examined the possible relationship between water quality parameters and antibiotic resistance from two different drinking water sources (the Qiantang River and the Dongtiao Stream) in Hangzhou city of China. E. coli isolates were tested for their susceptibility to 18 antibiotics. Most of the isolates were resistant to tetracycline (TE), followed by ampicillin (AM), piperacillin (PIP), trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (SXT), and chloramphenicol (C). The antibiotic resistance rate of E. coli isolates from two water sources was similar; For E. coli isolates from the Qiantang River, their antibiotic resistance rates decreased from up- to downstream. Seasonally, the dry and wet season had little impact on antibiotic resistance. Spearman’s rank correlation revealed significant correlation between resistance to TE and phenicols or ciprofloxacin (CIP), as well as quinolones (ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin) and cephalosporins or gentamicin (GM). Pearson’s chi-square tests found certain water parameters such as nutrient concentration were strongly associated with resistance to some of the antibiotics. In addition, tet genes were detected from all 82 TE-resistant E. coli isolates, and most of the isolates (81.87%) contained multiple tet genes, which displayed 14 different combinations. Collectively, this study provided baseline data on antibiotic resistance of drinking water sources in Hangzhou city, which indicates drinking water sources could be the reservoir of antibiotic resistance, potentially presenting a public health risk.

Warmer Temperatures Might Actually Enhance Predator Control of Parasites

Spencer R. Hall, Alan J. Tessier, Meghan A. Duffy, Marianne Huebner, and Carla E. Cceres. Warmer Does Not Have to Mean Sicker: Temperature and Predators can Jointly Drive Timing of Epidemics. Ecology, 87(7), 2006, pp. 1684-1695

Ecologists and epidemiologists worry that global warming will increase disease prevalence. These fears arise because several direct and indirect mechanisms link warming to disease, and because parasite outbreaks are increasing in many taxa. However, this outcome is not a foregone conclusion, as physiological and community-interaction-based mechanisms may inhibit epidemics at warmer temperatures. Here, we explore this thermal-community ecology-based mechanism, centering on fish predators that selectively prey upon Daphnia infected with a fungal parasite. We used an interplay between a simple model built around this system’s biology and laboratory experiments designed to parameterize the model. Through this data-model interaction, we found that a given density of predators can inhibit epidemics as temperatures rise when thermal physiology of the predator scales more steeply than that of the host. This case is met in our nsh-Daphnia-iungus system. Furthermore, the combination of steeply scaling parasite physiology and predation-induced mortality can inhibit epidemics at lower temperatures. This effect may terminate fungal epidemics of Daphnia as lakes cool in autumn. Thus, predation and physiology could constrain epidemics to intermediate temperatures (a pattern that we see in our system). More generally, these results accentuate the possibility that warmer temperatures might actually enhance predator control of parasites.

Wild Geese and Swans May Transmit Avian Influenza Virus, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Antibiotic Resistance

Elmberg J, Berg C, Lerner H, Waldenström J, Hessel R. Potential disease transmission from wild geese and swans to livestock, poultry and humans: a review of the scientific literature from a One Health perspective. Infection ecology and epidemiology. 2017 Apr 10;7(1):1300450. doi: 10.1080/20008686.2017.1300450.

There are more herbivorous waterfowl (swans and geese) close to humans, livestock and poultry than ever before. This creates widespread conflict with agriculture and other human interests, but also debate about the role of swans and geese as potential vectors of disease of relevance for human and animal health. Using a One Health perspective, we provide the first comprehensive review of the scientific literature about the most relevant viral, bacterial, and unicellular pathogens occurring in wild geese and swans. Research thus far suggests that these birds may play a role in transmission of avian influenza virus, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and antibiotic resistance. On the other hand, at present there is no evidence that geese and swans play a role in transmission of Newcastle disease, duck plague, West Nile virus, Vibrio, Yersinia, Clostridium, Chlamydophila, and Borrelia. Finally, based on present knowledge it is not possible to say if geese and swans play a role in transmission of Escherichia coli, Pasteurella, Helicobacter, Brachyspira, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Microsporidia. This is largely due to changes in classification and taxonomy, rapid development of identification methods and lack of knowledge about host specificity. Previous research tends to overrate the role of geese and swans as disease vectors; we do not find any evidence that they are significant transmitters to humans or livestock of any of the pathogens considered in this review. Nevertheless, it is wise to keep poultry and livestock separated from small volume waters used by many wild waterfowl, but there is no need to discourage livestock grazing in nature reserves or pastures where geese and swans are present. Under some circumstances it is warranted to discourage swans and geese from using wastewater ponds, drinking water reservoirs, and public beaches. Intensified screening of swans and geese for AIV, West Nile virus and anatid herpesvirus is warranted.