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Cent Afr J Med. 1992 Apr;38(4):143-9.

Bacterial contamination of food and household stored drinking water in a farmworker community in Zimbabwe.

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Blair Research Laboratory, Ministry of Health, Causeway, Zimbabwe.


Food and water samples, collected from the homes of farmworkers with children less than five years old, were cultured for Escherichia coli (which was used as an indicator of faecal contamination) and bacterial enteric pathogens. Sixteen percent of the food samples and 41 pc of the household stored water samples had E.coli. Ten percent of the foods had high E.coli counts greater than 10(4) counts per ml or g of food. Most of the foods were stored for more than 12 hours. Bacterial enteric pathogens were isolated in low percentages in foods and water except Aeromonas which was very common in household stored water. The majority of the faecally contaminated water samples had low E.coli counts (less than 20 E.coli/100 ml) and 61 pc of the water was stored for less than 12 hours. There was no relationship between faecal contamination of the water and period of storage in the home. Household stored water had a higher percentage of samples contaminated with E.coli than the tap water which was used to fill the storage vessels. Household stored drinking water is a major route of transmission of Aeromonas in the rural community which was studied.

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