Abstract

Water-borne diseases like diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (DEC)-induced gastroenteritis are major public health problems in developing countries. In this study, the microbiological quality of water from mines and shallow wells was analyzed for human consumption. Genotypic and phenotypic characterization of DEC strains was performed. A total of 210 water samples was analyzed, of which 153 (72.9%) contained total coliforms and 96 (45.7%) E. coli. Of the E. coli isolates, 27 (28.1%) contained DEC genes. The DEC isolates included 48.1% Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), 29.6% enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), 14.9% enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), 3.7% enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), and 3.7% enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC). All the STECs had cytotoxic effects on Vero cells and 14.8% of the DEC isolates were resistant to at least one of the antibiotics tested. All DEC formed biofilms and 92.6% adhered to HEp-2 cells with a prevalence of aggregative adhesion (74%). We identified 25 different serotypes. One EPEC isolate was serotype O44037:H7, reported for the first time in Brazil. Phylogenetically, 63% of the strains belonged to group B1. The analyzed waters were potential reservoirs for DEC and could act as a source for infection of humans. Preventive measures are needed to avoid such contamination.

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