The study aimed to compare the bacteriological quality of an urban and rural irrigation water source. Bacterial counts, characterization, identification and diversity of aerobic bacteria were determined. Escherichia coli isolated from both sites was subjected to antibiotic susceptibility testing, virulence gene (Stx1/Stx2 and eae) determination and (GTG)5 Rep-PCR fingerprinting. Low mean monthly counts for aerobic spore formers, anaerobic spore formers and Staphylococcus aureus were noted although occasional spikes were observed. The most prevalent bacterial species at both sites were Bacillus spp., E. coli and Enterobacter spp. In addition, E. coli and Bacillus spp. were most prevalent in winter and summer respectively. Resistance to at least one antibiotic was 84% (rural) and 83% (urban). Highest resistance at both sites was to cephalothin and ampicillin. Prevalence of E. coli possessing at least one virulence gene (Stx1/Stx2 and eae) was 15% (rural) and 42% (urban). All (rural) and 80% (urban) of E. coli possessing virulence genes showed antibiotic resistance. Complete genetic relatedness (100%) was shown by 47% of rural and 67% of urban E. coli isolates. Results from this study show that surface irrigation water sources regardless of geographical location and surrounding land-use practices can be reservoirs of similar bacterial pathogens.
- antibiotic resistance
- bacterial pathogens
- E. coli
- irrigation water
- First received 13 November 2013.
- Accepted in revised form 23 June 2014.
- © University of Pretoria 2015