Source: Laboratories of Dr. Ian Pepper and Dr. Charles Gerba - Arizona University
Demonstrating Author: Luisa Ikner
The quality of water destined for use in agricultural, recreational, and domestic settings is of great importance due to the potential for outbreaks of waterborne disease. Microbial agents implicated in such events include parasites, bacteria, and viruses that are shed in high numbers in the feces of infected people and animals. Transmission to new and susceptible hosts may then occur via the fecal-oral route upon ingestion of contaminated water. Therefore, the ability to monitor water sources for the presence of pathogenic microorganisms is significant in order to ensure public health.
Due to the sheer number and variety of potential fecal-oral pathogens that may be present in water and their variable concentrations, it is impractical and expensive to assay directly for each one of them on a regular basis. Therefore, the microbiological assays for water quality monitoring employ coliform indicator bacteria. Coliforms comprise, in part, the normal intestinal microflora of warm-blooded mammals, are non-pathogenic, and are consistently excreted in the feces. Therefore, the detection of coliform bacteria in water means that a fecal release occurred, and that harmful pathogenic m…