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S Afr Med J. 1989 Oct 7;76(7):365-7.

Survival of Vibrio cholerae in African domestic water storage containers.

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Department of Tropical Diseases, School of Pathology, South African Institute for Medical Research, Johannesburg.


Although much has been published about growth of Vibrio cholerae in natural sources of water, little or nothing has been written on its survival in common household water storage containers. This study compared the behaviour of the El Tor and Classical biotypes of V. cholerae in different containers commonly used in Africa for domestic water storage. These included traditional clay pots, wooden barrels, galvanised iron drums (corroded and non-corroded) and plastic (polyethylene) drums. The findings are considered to be of public health interest with reference to selection of the most suitable containers for the storage of water drawn from a treated source. Although survival of V. cholerae was much shorter in clay pots than in any of the other containers, the numbers of viable V. cholerae were higher than in non-corroding iron drums and plastic drums. The clay pots, being porous, also showed a tendency to constant outward seepage of water which, when collected, was also shown to harbour cholera bacilli. These containers are therefore considered hazardous as pathogens in the stored water are easily disseminated to contaminate either hands or food prepared in the vicinity. The longest survival occurred in damaged metal drums. Presence of other bacteria greatly inhibited survival of V. cholerae. The response of the two biotypes was much the same in all the experiments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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