Muddying the Waters: A New Area of Concern for Drinking Water Contamination in Cameroon

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Article courtesy of  Jessica M. Healy Profitós, Arabi Mouhaman, Seungjun Lee, Rebecca Garabed, Mark Moritz, Barbara Piperata, Joe Tien, Michael Bisesi, Jiyoung Lee | November 28, 2014|| Shared as educational material

In urban Maroua, Cameroon, improved drinking water sources are available to a large majority of the population, yet this water is frequently distributed through informal distribution systems and stored in home containers (canaries), leaving it vulnerable to contamination. We assessed where contamination occurs within the distribution system, determined potential sources of environmental contamination, and investigated potential pathogens. Gastrointestinal health status (785 individuals) was collected via health surveys. Drinking water samples were collected from drinking water sources and canaries. E. coli and total coliform levels were evaluated and molecular detection was performed to measure human-associated faecal marker, HF183; tetracycline-resistance gene, tetQ; Campylobacter spp.; and Staphylococcus aureus. Statistical analyses were performed to evaluate the relationship between microbial contamination and gastrointestinal illness. Canari samples had higher levels of contamination than source samples. HF183 and tetQ were detected in home and source samples. An inverse relationship was found between tetQ and E. coli. Presence of tetQ with lower E. coli levels increased the odds of reported diarrhoeal illness than E. coli levels alone. Further work is warranted to better assess the relationship between antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and other pathogens in micro-ecosystems within canaries and this relationship’s impact on drinking water quality.

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