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Water Res. 2005 Nov;39(18):4485-93. Epub 2005 Oct 10.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 in drinking water from private water supplies in the Netherlands.

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National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Microbiological Laboratory for Health Protection, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands.


The microbiological quality of drinking water from 144 private water supplies in the Netherlands was tested and additionally the occurrence of Escherichia coli O157 was examined. Faecal indicators were enumerated by using standard membrane filtration methods. The presence of E. coli O157 was determined using a specific enrichment method. Eleven percent of the samples contained faecal indicators whereas E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from 2.7% of the samples that otherwise met the drinking water standards. The E. coli O157 positive water supplies were located on camp-sites in agricultural areas with large grazer densities. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis suggested that cattle might have been the cause of contamination. Our results indicate that compliance with microbiological quality standards obtained in routine monitoring does not always guarantee the absence of pathogens. The presence of pathogens such as E. coli O157 may suggest possible health consequences; however, a risk assessment process should be performed as the monitoring of both faecal indicator parameters and pathogens do not predict the effect of microbial contamination of drinking water on a population.

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