Human and animal fecal contamination of community water sources, stored drinking water and hands in rural India measured with validated microbial source tracking assays
Misra, Pravas R.
Jenkins, Marion W.
Date of Issue2015
School of Biological Sciences
Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering
We examined pathways of exposure to fecal contamination of human and animal origin in 24 villages in Odisha, India. In a cross-sectional study during the monsoon season, fecal exposure via community water sources (N = 123) and in the home (N = 137) was assessed using human- and nonhuman-associated Bacteroidales microbial source tracking (MST) markers and fecal coliforms (FCs). Detection rates and marker concentrations were examined to pinpoint pathways of human fecal exposure in the public and domestic domains of disease transmission in study communities. Human fecal markers were detected much more frequently in the domestic domain (45% of households) than in public domain sources (8% of ponds; 4% of groundwater drinking sources). Animal fecal markers were widely detected in both domains (74% of ponds, 96% of households, 10% of groundwater drinking sources), indicating ubiquitous risks of exposure to animal feces and zoonotic pathogens. This study confirms an often suggested contamination link from hands to stored water in the home in developing countries separately for mothers' and children's hands and both human and animal fecal contamination. In contrast to MST markers, FCs provided a poor metric to assess risks of exposure to fecal contamination of human origin in this rural setting.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
© 2015 The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.